Annik started Speaker Express in 2011 after feeling stuck with no confidence and fear of speaking up about her ideas because they might sound silly to others.
She has seen and heard thousands of different speeches & pitches and delivered training in the UK, Europe, Australia and Africa.
Her clients include technology start-ups within Silicon Roundabout, coaches, consultants, CEOs, Managing Directors, high-end corporates and a recently funded business voted ‘Best Dragons’ Den Pitch Ever’. As part of their 3 or 6-month Speaking Accelerator, Speaker Express assisted thousands of entrepreneurs to successfully pitch for investment and funding, gain the confidence to push their business from home office to the stage, give talks on TEDx stages, generate more leads or land big corporate contracts.
Victor Ahipene: Speaking nation, what’s happening? Uh, welcome to another episode of the public speaking secrets podcast. I’m your host, Victor. Super excited to keep you moving into 2019 with new skills and secrets and everything asked to take. You’re speaking to a whole another level and I’ve got the perfect person to do that. If you have looked at how you can not only grow your confidence with speaking, which is obviously why you’re here, but also how you can funnel it back into your business. Then we have the best view and neat patrol is the founder of Speaker Express. And she was like a lot of you when she began, uh, you know, it was 2011. She’s feeling stuck. A lot of us lack that confidence. Had a bit of fear of speaking and yeah, even though a lot of us are confident people one to one, since then, she’s completely transformed. Hundreds and thousands of people’s lives with speaker training and been able to get people in front of the right people. And that’s all the way from CEOs to consultants, large companies and your everyday you an ice. So we’re going to dive into a lot of different things that I think will be hugely beneficial to you, but first off it without me doing all the talking about her. Welcome to the show Annik.
Annik Petrou: Hi! Good to be here actually from London.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah. So we’re a pretty much opposite time zones at the moment. It’s like 8:17 PM in the future here. And I’m imagining it’s probably early morning for you. Is it?
Annik Petou: Yeah then o’clock.
Victor Ahipene: Ten o’clock. So, uh, first off, thanks for jumping on and I mean we’ve kind of got a bit of a grasp of a tiny snippet into, you know, you, you kind of treating the part that we all treated when it comes to improving our speaking and things like that. But if you want to give our listeners a bit of an insight about, I guess what you do now on the day to day and then your business side of things from the speaker.
Annik Petou: Basically I had, I’m German, East German to be precise and probably some of them still on my accent. I’ve been in London for 14 years now, but when I came over here I studied environmental management and I had one of those horrific experiences where I had to do a presentation. Otherwise I couldn’t graduate and for six weeks my life just sorge. I couldn’t think I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. It was horrendous. And then on the day when I had to just give a little update about genetically modified organisms, right. But I walked to the front of the room and I turned around and suddenly it felt like everything blood, the room disappeared. It started to spin. My hands started to sweat and my knees were shaking. Was like, what the hell is that? And that was one of those moments where I said to myself, the German control freak in me, I actually was talking was like, there’s no way you ever let that happen to you again.
It was just renders and I wanted to be in control of what’s happening in my mind and obviously, you know, to my body as well. And then I started doing what we’re doing really good now. But in 2011, you know, it wasn’t that good. And you know, I think one of the first tips on that note, I always say to be able to start before you think you’re ready and it’s really, really, really important. And in 2013 I agreed to do a TEDx and again in wasn’t even now. Sometimes when I watch it back I’m like, oh my God, it makes me cringe upon belief. I was talking about that, you know, and now we have a lot of entrepreneurs to use speaking for business growth. And obviously, you know, one thing that’s really close to my heart is working with people who don’t sell nuclear weapons, because speaking is such a super power and it can really transform the world if it’s used for good. And you know, most businesses we work with, not, not most, all of them that are all amazing people you know. And I want to leave a positive impact on this planet.
Victor Ahipene: That is awesome. And I want to delve into that as a, I’m on the same wavelength as you and your business partner in previous. The previous use Elliot with, um, with same, the power of your public speaking. I spoke to someone the other day who’s who, you know, were having, having a chat about where we want them to go with the speaking and he said the single most important skill that I have developed is the ability to speak. This is, he works in the corporate world. Yeah. He was working for a radio industry like 21 years old and no one wanted to go and give these presentations when the CEO was away. And he said, Yep, I’ll do it. Put his hand up and then became indispensable to the company and when they were looking to give different people promotion. So we’re saying, well, this guy is doing so much growth.
And Yeah, he was, uh, promoted over people who were probably higher up than him. And ever since then he’s always put his hand up. And he said when he first started, good was good enough. He said he was nowhere near as the CEO was a 10. He was a three, but he said over time and you know, with different skills that, that he’s, he’s implemented these become a lot better from your side of things. I mean that’s obviously one awesome example I think for people in the corporate world. You work with a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs and companies. How do you see or what would you say a one or two of the biggest advantages of becoming a confident speaker with in? Yeah, with the opportunities that it can create that, that superpower?
Annik Petou: Totally, we have found over time and the better you get at that to sell yourself and you know, have this amazing ability to get yourself gigs in front of bigger groups. It has a direct correlation to your bank account. You will see that it really helps generating leads and just getting more people to buy a product or to buy into your services because they have an experience with the, with you. Then. Then if you just think about, even if it’s only a smaller crowd, right? You speak for 30 minutes in front of 20 people, like how long would it take you to reach those people? One on one, right? So it’s not only a positive correlation to your bank account at a time and saves you and that would really help you scaling your business.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah, I love that point of the partly a leveraged here, the people who are so into someone the other day who’s had, who’s got 40 meetings a week with different people. Yeah. If you can have one meeting with 40 people a, you’re leveraging your time and yeah, you’re going to get a qualified people. Yeah. And they’re going to be able to build that know, like, and trust. I think one of the other really cool things as the authority or expert tag that you get from being in front of people like which is, which is absolutely awesome for you. If you’re in the crowd, you’re looking up to the person who’s on stage. I feel the person onstage, uh, you know, people are already looking up to you and you’ve built some, some level of credibility and trust. Um, so with, with that, when you’re training people at what, uh, I guess some of the biggest mistakes you see with, with businesses organizations and the entrepreneurs that you work with that, that commonly doing when they are presenting from stage, the ones that are actually putting themselves outside their comfort zone before they’ve kind of got things fine-tuned, what are some of the big mistakes that are costing them when they’re up there?
Annik Petou: So one of the things I’ve been guilty and I was like, oh I can just wing it, you know, like I want to be authentic. I want to speak from the heart. And then you start rambling, waffling. I was like, why am I in your head? You know, you’re going with that. But if you have a good solid structure, that structure would give you a lot of freedom because within that you can experiment. So one thing I did badly couple of years ago, I was hired to work with a bunch of Baristas and before I normally would always walk with different businesses and entrepreneurs. And then when I stood in front of those guys, I’m like, oh, I don’t actually have any case studies or examples that relate directly to them, you know, I could have really done a lot of research. So finding ways to make it practically more understandable for your is really, really, really important and what I still see now and it just really breaks my heart like the first 30 seconds, they’re so crucial and I still see too many people walking up on that stage and they start with our thank you organizers for having me, you know, thank you for being here on such a sunny day.You know, in this room, locked up with me. It’s like no one really cares.
You know, before they fully understand that you are able to solve that problem. You know, your, your, your, your sob story. But oh, thanking everyone and being so grateful you can be irrelevant and you can do this offline, right? Especially with the on. You’re just wasting precious time to build a deeper connection with your audience.
Victor Ahipene: One hundred percent agree. The other thing they do is they come out and they go, hi, I’m Victor and today I’m going to be talking to you about, and it’s like people don’t care about you until you’ve proved that you can solve a problem and then you’ve got, and then you’ve got the ability to it and they don’t care what you’re going to talk about. They care about what you’re talking about when you’re talking about it. Like, yeah, they don’t, they don’t need a, a, a, you know, a wedding reception, you know, we’re doing this and then this and then that’s like you’re, you, you need to captivate them in that first 30 seconds to build your authority to know that so they know that they’re in the right place and yeah, I agree. It’s like thanking people, thank them by giving an awesome presentation. Yeah.
Annik Petou: I think, what is also crucial, if it feels authentic to you that you maybe have a funny story how you met the organizer or something that fits in and then we’ll have it seamlessly to your content. Then by all means, you know that’s a good story to share because what can happen as well as a lot of speaker trainings, they have that prescribed formula and let’s say they have 100 people in the room. Everyone learns the same structure. Everyone learns, designed for on. Everyone then starts at presentation in the same way and that’s so boring. As long as you just have to find your style and that’s probably a key and that’s know already too and techniques you see line wherever you know you do speak training, find what works for you and not want whoever is doing the training really works well for them.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah, I agree was a really good point because I. I mean this is a really funny video of how to give a keynote presentation or how to give a talk or something and it’s just a set higher video where it’s and I’m an influencer and here’s a big picture of the earth and here’s a little picture and insert story, last pause for laughter. Walk across the. And it’s basically saying, yeah, he is the dissection of, of how everybody gets up and gives these speeches. But yeah, on that point of the organizer, I, I, uh, one of my students, I helped Josh, he was talking, he, he does marketing and he was talking to a dental clinic owners at a paid event and it was his first time speaking and same sort of thing. It didn’t, he, he, he was going to start off with the, thank you blah blah blah.
And instead we got it to a point that he just shared a, an email on the screen from the event organizer, which was super cool because he couldn’t sell from stage and the Serbian either. And it was just basically the event organizers saying, thanks. Yeah, this is now. It was all just, you know, completely genuine. But it was like, thanks, this is the twelfth clinic, now that we’ve reached double figures now this is the 10th clinic that you’ve done the marketing for us now. And uh, you know, we’ve triple profitability in one month since taking it over or something can then, yeah, his social proof. And then he said, who wants to learn how you can do that for yours and you get 200 hands raised and you, you’ve got the, the security of the person who’s organized the event, whoever on or do you trust that you can leverage off their, off their trust?
Um, with, with what your, what you kind of work with work with people in regards to, I guess getting it into using it for their business growth. What, what kind of strategies do you teach or do you recommend? And in regards to, I’m finding that line between a speaking events that they can sell it, speaking events that they do for exposure or speaking events that they get paid for. I know everyone’s kind of got their own, own different onwards. Would which one do you tend to go down or is there no kind of sit, sit strategy? Uh, you know, for no cookie cutter approach?
Annik Petou: Well, it really depends on who your target audience is and what type of people you have to get in front of. Basically five or six different elements. First of all, they have a really big relevance to how you build your business model, right? You obviously have to have confidence. You have to be really good at communicating your brand message. You also have to create a solid keynote or signature talk, you know from then when you have that together, you need to get an understanding how to get booked, how to sell a pitch, and most importantly, you know how to build your profile by ending up on the right stages. So when I started out, I didn’t know any of that and I was just kind of throwing stuff and everything and it works. It helps to really refine yourself better. So I always recommend people to start with storytelling.
Humans, I don’t know how it is in Brisbane, but I have found here in London, if you would want to speak and have to talk to source the gigs, you could speak 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are so many events constantly. New events are popping up and the best that you are. Let’s say you started a number of free storytelling events. You know, you will make more connections that up for every event you attend, you will refine your understanding of your content, of your materials, what lands and what works and from there you can then build to maybe start looking into the paid gigs. But I often I’m happy to speak for a really low fee because I know when we sell people into our three or six months programs, that’s where the money is and I rather be able to do short little pitch at the end and say, hey, you know, we have this one guy that feels right, come join us instead of being paid 1,500 pounds or $3,000 and then not being able to actually pluck what you do?
Victor Ahipene: Yeah. And I mean that’s, that’s the thing, it’s the same. I think it’s the same in any city, obviously depending on population in regards to getting those free or low hanging fruit is like, yeah, jump on. Meetup.com and type in your niche that you, that you, um, you know, made up. So I’m sure it’s big over there, but it’s, yeah, it’s big in Australia. Type it in, yeah, if you’re a Facebook ads marketer or if you’re a health and lifestyles person, type in your interest and see what events there are and, and reach out to people and like you say, they’ll be people who, if you build that rapport and have some structure to it, there’s going to be the people who are going to want to sign up and again, you get leverage. It’s easier than having 21 on one phone calls when you can have 20 people there, uh, you know, getting to meet you and know you and like you and trust you and um, yeah. And then get them into those three and six months programs that you have hopefully gotten place, which is super important.
Annik Petou: Definitely. And over here we have a lot of local chambers of commerce, you know, I’m sure you have business events that not necessarily themselves what set themselves up on meet-up. So follow your competition and divert of commerce. I don’t really, you know, there’s enough work for everyone else to follow people who do similar things to you see where they speak. Like we are very collaborative, you know, I always share connections and gigs without the people as well. So that’s really a good thing to start with. Two.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah. And I mean you’ll live a lap and so there’s going to be people that, you know, in the same industry and then you can connect them and yeah, it goes into a very, uh, a very cyclic fashion that opportunities will arise that you won’t be able to take and someone else will and, and things like that.
When, when it comes to, um, just to give people, I guess a bit of an insight, say a, an event. So we’ve got someone who knows how to sell from stage because a lot of event organizers will make sure that you can do it. What would that oversight say in the UK and Europe and I’m sure it’s pretty similar worldwide. What would it look like? Say If, if you were to go to an event, you’re speaking for free or you know, fairly cheap and you’re able to sell from stage, what kind of cuts, uh, would, would you get saved versus the event organizer? And how does that all kind of look for people looking to go down there often free or very low entry, bigger events.
Annik Petou: It really depends on what you negotiate. So for example, someone recently approached us to pay 1,500 pounds for the privilege to be there, but they will do the marketing with that. They would feel the room they would have to and then they would take a 15 percent cut on whatever you’re upselling to. And it just really depends. Obviously the big ones. I’m not going to name drop, but I don’t really like them. They’re so hardcore, you know, they charge thousands of pounds and they’ve really, really pushed and then you end up with a bunch of idiots. I honestly like I have to say that they sell so aggressively that at the end of the talk you just feel like, oh my God, if I don’t buy them, you feel like you’re manipulated into it. If I don’t buy that, I will be a loser. I will never be successful. Really pains me. You know? And there are loads of other events.
So for example, Elliot deny here we were putting on a thriving entrepreneurs conference and people, whoever’s speaking, they committed to selling a couple of tickets but they don’t sell on the day. It’s really about sharing and connection and collaboration, you know, because I fear of what you said before, you know, like, and trust you just sometimes it takes a couple of interactions with someone and I really, especially if you’re starting out, I don’t recommend to pay, you know, to be on someone’s stage. You can do that if you’re a bit more experienced. But there are loads of other ways including putting on your own events to draw a really good crowd and build your profile and always make sure that, you know, who else will be on stage with you because they are a number of people I’ve found in the industry I just don’t want to be associated with. Not because they’re mean that they sell. It’s just I don’t find ethical and you know, um, it’s just stay away from it. And I’d rather close slower but sustainable and in a really, really, really authentic way.
Victor Ahipene: You create what you attract. I know it sounds kind of woo woo to some people, but it’s if you’re selling somewhat unethically or you’re trying to push the parcel, you’re gonna attract. Yeah. Either higher refund people, high maintenance people or people who are gonna go out and represent what you’ve taught them a yeah, and a and a really shoddy, shoddy way and I think that’s. You have said it before. There’s enough work for everybody. So coming from that place of abundance where yeah, the deal of the century comes around every other week rather than, Oh, if I don’t speak at this event because the cash flows low or no, I need the exposure and this will be so great for me. If, if you know that hey, this doesn’t align with what I’m doing, even though it might be a great opportunity for someone else, you know, walk away from it and just know that yeah, there’s another 10 events in your city this week.
Little line the next month and the month after. So I think, yeah, the really important points because you know, I’ve, I’ve been to some of eats. Yeah, the big sales pitches that Gary Vee as the keynote speaker where he’s not selling anything, he’s just getting paid a bucket load to be there and they don’t tell you when he’s on and and between that it’s just sales presentation after sales presentation and some of a people who have just, they’ve just walked out and I said don’t bother coming, you know, coming on stage because they won’t tell you until the last minute. So you’re in there for every presentation and you know, people get turned off the brand and yet at that generates money and it and it works, but there’s churn and burn. They have to spend twice as much to get people back the next year to the event because everyone says, well that was crap.
I’m not going. So it’s not, it’s not that sustainable healthy tribe debt. I think we will want to build and go towards what’s with regards to I guess building or running your own events. I think that’s another thing. A lot of the lessons out there really want to do this this year, next year, you know, over the coming months. What are some of the, the biggest, uh, the biggest tips you could give to people who are looking to get started? Like yeah, one, one or two things that you have, you’ve kind of found critical or found very beneficial in regards to running your own events.
Annik Petou: It’s really about building a pool of raving fans, like people who really, really, really love what you do. And they would just share your event no matter what. You know, give yourself enough time that you can, you know, lead up to an event saying that what we have found in London, there are a lot of last minute people. So even if you only give yourself six weeks for like a smaller event, that still enough time to get some people do it and be fine. If at the beginning only like five, six to 12 people turn up and be consistent with it. You know, it’s, if he only put on an event every now and then and you don’t really have like a strong, let’s say Facebook group where you keep people engaged in between then that’s really difficult. But I have just one of my friends, she started running events last year and she does a lot of posts on social media. You know, find what you’re good at.
I, I’m not the biggest fan of social media drives me crazy. I’m pretty consistent with it. But I love doing speaking gigs. So you only do like a number of small gigs and you tell people about your event and then that’s how you spread the word. So whatever feels right to you, that’s what you have to choose. Because I see people crash and burn because someone tells them or they have done the social media cause it’s like I want to do this and it’s not really natural to their personality. And then after wire they just totally burnt out because they’re pushing themselves to do some things I don’t love.
Victor Ahipene: I think that’s awesome advice because a lot of us get bogged down in the, in the idea. I guess it is kind of the Gary Vee way now of like you need to be Omni prisoner. Yeah. And Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest and twitter and whatever else is out these days. And YouTube and all the rest of it. And um, you know, there’s, there’s people waiting out there in the real world as well for you that if you can get in front of them, um, you know, I know I’m, I’m a, I’m a confident speaker and I spend too much time on social media but I don’t necessarily put out always compelling content but get me in front of people in a live situation and I can build much better rapport and you know, you generate those raving fans, which I think, you know, it sounds like the line that you go down as well, uh, which I think is super, super valuable tip for everybody is fine. What you’re best at and leverage off that to, to kind of have, to kind of get a, get an overall picture where your businesses now and training people and things like that. What does that, what does that look like for your different levels? To kind of have a look? Have a peek behind the curtain to where you aimed to take us out in the next couple of years as well. So from where it is now to where you’re looking to take it?
Annik Petou: Sure. So we started doing, we filmed an online program with Josh. I think he connected us.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah. Yeah. He was one of my first guests on here.
Annik Petou: Oh amazing guys. And one of the kinds of. So I’m going to move to Australia next year for a bit and it’s really. They always have. I played with the idea what did we do? Are we going launch, speak express over there, but we might not. It’s really finding a place as well where we can shift and, and have able to haven’t experienced with us online. That’s really, really important. But what do we have found is sometimes even if people go on our YouTube channel and watch videos and learn stuff and I have seen some really experienced business owners and business people who have in business for 15 years. Right. And then they have to do a presentation and trust me, this is my real experience in the training room. There’s nothing like that. It’s so powerful. And what we do is all our trainers, we have as a train, for example, if we would only be on stage for about 25 percent of the time, the rest would be facilitated and it would be interactive so people actually crash and burn right there and then, you know, they dare to bomb, they learn storytelling structure, always say a structure and they try it out and most often if you do something, it totally doesn’t work how you created it in your head. So that’s really something we just want to continue to do our live trainings and just the most fun and the most powerful as well.
Victor Ahipene: In a similar space with you. And yeah, it’s. I started my training. For anyone listening to this might not happen at your next one, but it probably will, but I, I said, hey everyone, uh, or so, uh, draw a number out of the hit. You’re the first one is a topic at the back with you with your name on it. You’ve got two minutes to prepare and you’ve got to give a three minute impromptu talk. And people, you’re, everyone’s face just goes, oh my God. Like, this is not what I was thinking, but we just, we go through it the whole day and you know, they learned something and then we do another one and learn something and do another one. And by the end of it I say to people, it’s like riding a bike like you, you, you start off and you fall off and you don’t know what you’re doing.
And then you know, as you get more confidence and you know, the different things that you need to be doing a, yeah, it becomes a lot more more fluent or near I live live training versus you know, reading an awesome book on public speaking or yeah, it’s like reading a book on how to play golf and then going out on the golf course and being amazed when you can’t swing and hit it 300 meters down the down the middle of the fairway. It’s the being in the trenches and the practical side of things is a, is absolutely a different, different kettle of fish. So you’re coming over to Australia, but in the meantime, uh, what, just a couple of a couple of questions to finish up, what’s the best book? Doesn’t have to be public speaking related that you’ve, you’ve written the last start of 2019, basically been in the last, in the last 12 months. What’s your number one number one book or person you’ve started to follow?
Annik Petou: So one of them is called Deep Work and I was always really busy and distracted, you know, I, I could spend the entire day just doing emails and then realizing, hang on a minute, I haven’t ordered any science today, nor have I really kind of made a dent in my business in terms of growth. So that’s really been an amazing book. I love, love, love that. And if you Google it, you find it. I can’t think of the guy’s name now. And the other one is Nancy Kline, and couple of years ago, I think it’s longer than 10 years ago, she wrote a book called Thinking Environment and my husband, about four years ago, you said to me, you should read this book. And I flipped through it. I was like, it was all about listening. It’s like, what the hell, this is so basic. No, four years later I now work with a coach and I’m rocking my race with the book. It’s so profound and it really enables you to go deeper in your connections and your relationships in your own business content. You know, it’s something I highly, highly, highly recommend to really engage with her and how content is very powerful. And what was the, what was the name of that one? Thinking environment. Thinking environments. Yeah.
Victor Aipene: Cool. Cal Newport is the deep thing. Yeah, it’s an awesome book as well. Uh, it was. So we’ll link all of that at publicspeakingblueprint.com. I think we’ve got some awesome gems in there. And I’m in particular those, those six pillars that you talked about, if people can start breaking down what they do know and what they don’t know within those, those areas to develop themselves and the speaking business, whether it’d be in your own company or as a business selling services and products. I think those are those Integra or they obviously out what you, you’re both teaching, but those have been able to, you know, systematically implement them and realize good as good enough and, and you can find train along the way is going to be super valuable for everybody out there listening and I highly recommend that you go and check them out as people want to find out more about you. And about those six pillars, where do you recommend they go and what can they do?
Annik Petou: So we have a group on Facebook where the capital of thousand people in there and if he just stole casts on social media speak, I express and have a YouTube channel as well as the YouTube channel. It’s called speak express London limited. And I say, even if you just want to get in touch with me, we have just launched an online program that takes you, it gives you like a flavor of the six elements was talking about earlier to signature talk and say it’s all of those we have brought in a letter online program is short videos and some action steps and that’s really, really, really great way to start to dive deeper into the world of speaking.
Victor Aipene: Brilliant. Well, we will link all of that at publicspeakingblueprint.com. I’ve got all the links to be able to find that group and also jump into that training. I just want to thank you so much and welcome you to our speaker nation family, you. You’re part of it and you’re helping everybody and you’re helping my goal is making a talks less boring to give a little less boring to listen to it and more exciting to give. So thank you so much for that and I look forward to catching you when you’re in Sydney and we can speak all things public speaking and hopefully, yeah, hopefully if you. A few other things when you’re on the side of the, uh, the, the, the world.
Annik Petou: Awsome, all the best and make sure that start before you think you’re ready to do some of that was bad speeches and trust me, it will get better every time.
Victor Aipene: Brilliant. Well thank you so much and do that Speaker Nation Cha. That’s your challenge for the week and we’ll talk to you all next week.