Drawing people into stories they will never forget, that is a powerful skill to have and I guess it does not come naturally. There must be technique to it in practice. Tell us how did that work for you? How does it work for you and what can people take away?

Vince: Well, let us start where we end up, which is, this is actually recently I was at this cocktail party with this friend, for friend, I knew nobody at this event and there was maybe about 40 people at this house party and we are in a circle and this guy starts telling a story and I started to realize he was talking about me and this guy had no idea he was talking about me. What is really interesting about this is as he got into relaying my Olympic story and all that, he revealed that it was some sort of pharmaceutical firm Abbott labs and I went Abbott labs and then I piped up and I said, that was 10 years ago and he says, yeah, why? And I said, well I was the guy standing on the chair and he went, that is right, it was you. 

Now, the reason I share that end game to you is that if somebody can relate a story that they only heard for an hour of time 10 years later and in that span, has seen hundreds of other speakers, well then you are on to something, right?

Vince Poscente draws the audience into his story about speed skiing 

Listen to this conversation with Vince Poscente on the podcast, Your Intended Message



George: It is working.

Vince: You know it is working and the tip of the spear with any kind of communication and I am not just talking about speaking, I am talking about even emails, is to be able to have that impact and influence to get somebody’s attention and the only way to do that is through experience, when they experience the message and so, as you said, it does not come naturally. There is a lot of technique to it and we can dive into that through our conversation if you like.


George: Well, tell us some of those secrets there. Vince, what are the techniques and I am guessing the story I have seen you do is the one where you describe your experience as a downhill speed skier. Very few people in your audience are going to be Olympians. Almost none of them are going to be, probably none of them are speed skiers and there is going to be a whole lot who are not even skiers, so how do they experience your story?

Vince: Well, what I do now is draw them into what it feels like and smells like and all that. What I used to do is say, my opening was at the age of 26, I had never ski race before and four years later, I was vying for the gold medal in the Olympic games and I am here to share this story with you today and so I talked about myself, I made the audience the observer, what I was saying. 

Now, I open by standing on a chair on a sideways slope, like you are standing on the side of a 42 degree slope, you are going to go zero to 60 miles an hour in three seconds, you are going to be up to 125 miles an hour and eight seconds, all heck is going to break loose. You want to maintain a tight aerodynamic tuck as you point those skis downhill, the skis are going all over the place. Do you see the difference? The first one was the audience is the observer of the story and in the second one, I brought you into the story with language, you language, you are on the side of a 42 degree slope, your body is pushing all around, I mean the skis are going... I did not say your skis, I said skis are going, like that. 

So, when you use language, that draws them into the experience, get this, people never forget an experience like that guy 10 years later from Abbott labs, I mean it was just evident when you draw people into an experience, it sticks and then once you give them an experience, you can Velcro content to that experience which means they internalize that content rather than they have to source it and go back and what did he say and in the cerebral mode of trying to go through it. It has been internalized and then mission accomplished. That is being able to bring people into the content as well.


George: You said it is important for people to internalize the message. Now, how might a company leader, a corporate leader or CEO, when they need to deliver a message, they do not have the excitement that you did as an Olympic athlete, how can they internalize, how can they get their employees, their staff internalize the message working on a project, working for a goal, building better customer service, how can that CEO do that?

Vince: Well, I have been coaching CEOs and VIPs and celebrities for the last, maybe decade now because there is a technique to it and it really is, I will give you the anatomy of communication if you will and it is the eyes, head, and heart. Now, the sequence I would counsel any CEO to do is to get their attention, get their eyes, and get their attention where they go, oh, this is different. 

So, if the CEO stood up there and was reading off a teleprompter and said, what an honor to be with you here today, it is good to be with you. What I would like to cover today are the kinds of things that we have been, it is the antithesis of what you want to accomplish. What if a CEO started by saying, breakfast this morning was fascinating because the hotel had provided a buffet but the waiter said, what if you actually went off the menu and you know what I would recommend and he went down the list and this waiter was taking down a path of the experience of breakfast and what if you started that way? They are not expecting that so that is the eyes. The head, get inside their head with information that is innovative or counter-intuitive, either of those two things are essential to have people lean forward and go, I had not thought of it that way, thank goodness you are our CEO, right? So, to have stuff to get inside their head, if you said stuff that is cliché or stuff that they are expecting or something that they already know then your audience is going to go, yeah I know this, yeah I already got it, thanks Einstein. 

So, if you say stuff that gets inside their head, make sure it is innovative or counter-intuitive. Now, what if you were saying something that was conventional in nature like we cannot give up, we can never give up. As Winston Churchill said, one time would never give up, never give up, well yeah okay. Everybody has heard that one before so that is not innovative or counterintuitive but if that is the message you wanted to say, maybe you could say it this way, the first thing we have to do is give up, first thing we have to do is surrender and people would say, what do you mean, like why are you saying that because giving up means that we have been able to step back and say, is this working? Is this approach working? 

And in order for us to be consistent and persistent and never give up is to be able to step back, look at it and go, oh I get the picture and then we move forward. I just said the exact same thing as never give up but in an unconventional way, in a way that is innovative or counter-intuitive, right? And then the heart piece is something personal, something vulnerable, something in a position where you are talking about teaching your kid to ride a bike for the first time or the first time you rode a bike and you kept falling over and something where there is vulnerability to it. When you connect with people's heart then you got their attention, you got inside their head and they connected you personally and that sequence is magic. 


George: Now, that is interesting when a CEO stands at the front of the room, probably the last thing that they are telling themselves that they want to do is to appear vulnerable or imperfect because then people think they are not fit to be a leader, but in reality, the truth is what?

Vince: The truth is think of people in your life right now who you are most connected to, think of people that you trust the most, think of people that you would follow anywhere and those people have shown their vulnerability. Think of people that you do not trust, think of people that you would not follow, and think of people that you kind of have your guard up.


Vince: They have not shown their vulnerability, in fact, they have done the opposite of that and there is this wall around them. If that is the end game, if you want to connect with your people, if you want them to follow you, if you want to be able to have them feel that they are part of your life and you are part of theirs, then vulnerability is...  and it is not about crying, it is not about ‘I love you, man’, it is about being real, authentic. I am doing this on this call right now because at one point I was scratching my leg down here, well, you know what? So? That is not perfect but whatever. It is this human experience and there is a difference between acting authentic and being authentic or doing authentic, yeah that is even better way to put it. 

There is a difference between doing authentic and being authentic. So, being authentic is the winner.


George: How do we recognize the difference?

Vince: How do we recognize the difference? Everybody has that, I call it the BS detector and the BS detector kind of goes... and then you also realize, yeah I do not think this person is really doing what they are saying or whatever, there is a fair bit of intuition or internalization of the reading the person and that kind of thing so.


George: And for the speaker themselves, the CEO speaker, the corporate leader, when they want to come across as authentic, how do they know that they are on track, that they are doing authentic, not just acting?

Vince: There is one way which is like jumping on a cliff and learning how to fly on the way down and that is to, I will give you a case in point, the point being authentic on stage or being authentic when you are communicating through a video like this. I spoke to a massive hotel chain. They had all their managers. There was about almost 2000 hotel managers, all in the same room and their theme that year is being spontaneous. 

They wanted everybody to be spontaneous and think on their feet and if a guest needed something that you provide that solution no matter who you are, no matter who was working for you, it was spontaneity, that is their theme for the year and the executives got up and were reading the teleprompter. This year is our year of spontaneity. We want to be able to think on our feet. They are reading the teleprompter and I am standing at the back going, am I the only one seeing this? 

And so, I do not know how much money and time and effort they put into that spontaneity and the message cratered purely not practically speaking, you could take a bucket of content and dump it on people's heads but is it going to stick? Or you can provide something that is truly an experience and that is why this coaching thing that I have been doing has been so valuable is it is really the light bulbs coming on and stop making everybody the observer of your message where they have to process and experience it. So, to be able to communicate in that way would be to have bullet points. These are the 10 bullet points I want to hit and all the CEO would have to do is look at that bullet point. 

They know the content behind that, they know they may mess up, they may have to add something in a memo after that they forgot to mention or something. Okay, that is period, but if they went through these bullet points and went, we have to talk about supply chain management, supply chain management this year was not what it needed to be versus the supply chain management was not to the level of our expectation. What we wanted to be able to accomplish... the difference is massive. 

When you are communicating in a conversational tone, when you own the stage from the confidence of the material, people lean forward, they want to know and experience what you have to communicate.