🚀 Breathe.



“If you are up in front of an audience, saying or doing anything, give them projection, so they can hear you. Give some inflection in your voice. And most importantly, use some enthusiasm, and you'll hold their attention a lot longer.”

In this episode

In episode #67, Gary Rogers breaks down how to be a great public speaker and why it is such a common fear for most of us.

Gary is America’s leading Public Speaking Skills Coach. He has over 40 years of experience helping leaders at organizations like Procter and Gamble and Coca-Cola improve their communication.

In this episode, we cover the consequences of not being a good communicator and how this can impact your career in the long run. 

Tune in for tips on gaining confidence to become an effective speaker, both in person and virtually. 

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


Showing up professionally online


Number one human fear


Projection, Inflection, and Enthusiasm


Preparation versus memorization


Practice making mistakes



Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  02:30

Gary, welcome to the show.

Gary Rogers  02:32

Thank you. It’s great to be here. I couldn’t sleep last night. I was so excited to be on your program.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  02:37

That’s the nicest, I guess. the thing that someone has said after I said Welcome to the show. That’s pretty cool. I think that one’s going to be tough to beat. I love the energy. So, Gary, you have had quite an extensive career. You’ve helped organizations like Procter and Gamble, Coca-Cola, at&t, and so much more. You’re America’s leading public speaking skills coach, how did you get into this?

Gary Rogers  03:05

Well, that’s a great question. Now I started, I am an old guy. I’ve been around a long time I started basically with three m company 15 years ago. I started as a salesman, and then they made me a sales trainer, and eventually a sales. I’m sorry, a training manager. In the course of my management career, they taught us public speaking skills. And part of our training curriculum was teaching corporate managers to a three m company all over the country. public speaking skills led to 10 years later, I got so excited about public speaking. I left the WM company and built my own television production company. I spent 35 years in the television production motion picture industry. It all started with three m company.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  04:04

Oh, wow. That’s crazy. So you’ve been in television production for 35 years. And you, later on, sold that company, right?

Gary Rogers  04:12

I did. I sold the company and retired a dozen years ago, which lasted all of two weeks. I got so many seconds but just sitting around doing nothing is I got to do something. And I thought it was just at that time. A dozen years ago, video conferencing was just starting to come onto the internet. And I thought by I spent most of my life making people look good on camera that perhaps I can go online and teach presentation skills. For the last dozen years. I have been online teaching courses on presentation public speaking, primarily related to video conferencing. As you know, the whole world now has come to visit video conferencing, people are making a lot of mistakes. As soon as they turn on their webcam, my job is to help them look good on camera.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  05:08

So Gary, this is interesting it’s super topical, the idea of being on, you know, webcam, and everybody’s there. You know, one of the things, I think, that is just like easy things to check off. And I heard this really interesting way to put it, which is, you know, the cost of a flight in a hotel. Like if you just took the cost of one flight and hotel and then invested in video, you know, equipment. It makes up for it. And it makes a huge difference in terms of, what webcam quality can deliver. But I’m sure that it’s much more than just the webcam quality that you’re talking about. Right?

Gary Rogers  05:51

Oh, absolutely. You’ve got to come across professionally. it right now. We’re talking with each other. And I feel like you’re in my office literally. In my day, I had to spend, yeah, ages and ages on airplanes flying to my customers. You don’t need to do that anymore with video conferencing. But you do need to know what you’re doing.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  06:17

Yeah. So no, that’s, that’s awesome. And so one of the questions, I guess, like I was gonna ask you, so you’ve spent a lot of time then working with corporations everywhere on their communications and corporate videos. I’m curious, like, what are some of the challenges that you know, at that time you found that companies, in general, had with their communications?

Gary Rogers  06:39

As I mentioned, we were teaching corporate managers, public speaking skills, and I approached him with an idea. Three m company had just come out with three quarter inch videotape. Now, this was years before the home video. This was an industrial video that companies were starting to use. I approached my manager and said it, Hank. We’re trying to teach managers public speaking presentation skills, a picture’s worth 1000 words, why don’t we record their presentations and show it to them. As soon as they’ve finished? Let them see the mistakes they’re making. Again, a picture’s worth 1000 words. And he kind of thought about that for a little bit. And he said, You know, I think that’s a great idea. We went out and bought some very expensive television production video production equipment, put a monitor in our conference room, along with a camera, and recorded their presentations. And these people as soon as they saw themselves, and most of them had never seen themselves on TV before. As soon as they saw themselves and oh, my gosh, Is that me? Am I doing that? And immediately, they started making corrections. Again, a picture’s worth 1000 words, and we didn’t have to tell them they saw themselves. At that moment, I fell in love with video.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  08:14

What’s interesting today, of course, with all of us doing video calls for the large majority of our communications, it’s interesting, just this concept of recording is so much easier now. And so, you know, I don’t think a lot of people necessarily do this. But it’s nice that the ability to go back and rewatch a presentation you did or rewatch, you know, how you communicated during a meeting, after getting you to know, some feedback, even your facial expressions, I mean, all these things now are things that you can do. Whereas before, really the only way to say, you know, to tell to know that you reacted in a certain way during a meeting what would be if someone told you that, but now you have the ability to self-reflect in this way. So it’s really interesting how that’s now accessible to everyone. 

Gary Rogers  09:04


Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  09:05

 I guess we should, we should also talk about something that you’re very passionate about, you know, you help people show up well on video. But one of the things that you’re also an expert on and have coached a lot of people on is just public speaking. I mean, we all know that public speaking is one of the biggest phobias out there. If you know, I guess it ranks ahead of being scared of ghosts and clowns. So you have a bunch of experience on the topic. Why don’t we start with like, why do you think in a very deeply rooted way? Why do you think that this is a fear that people have?

Gary Rogers  09:45

Well, it is the number one human fear that most human beings have between 75% to 95% of the entire world population is scared to death of public speaking. It’s a human fear that holds so many people back. Why do people get so frightened? I think because they know that as soon as they get in front of somebody else, they’re being judged. They’re all eyes are on that individual. They want to do good. They want to do well. They want to look good. They want to come across well, and they’re frightened of making a mistake. And that happens to anybody. But people get so frightened of the unknown, if you will, they just tend to hold back. And it can kill corporate careers. managers that Excel, Excel because they stand out. And one of the best ways of doing that is through public speaking. It is can well, at&t, and Stanford University came out with a study stating that the number one predictor of professional success is the ability to speak well, in so many statistics says 60% of people get turned down for a job because they can’t speak well. Time magazine came out with a study showing that 90% of all five Fortune 500 companies require good public speakers to achieve success. People are looking for that, but they don’t teach it really in schools anymore. In my State, you can get a teaching certificate, an attorney can graduate from law school without even taking a speech class. To me, that’s just almost criminal.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  11:51

Yeah, no, that that that is a that is very interesting. And I do agree with you that it does probably hold a lot of careers back.

Gary Rogers 11:59

We talked about fear, fear of making mistakes. I remember Rick Perry in one of the presidential debates, he was running for president. It was his turn. And I think it was Chris Wallace who asked him a question he was touting he was going to eliminate three governmental departments if he were made president. And Chris Wallace said, Hey, what are some of the three departments you would eliminate? He said, Well, first, I’d eliminate the Department of Education. And then I would eliminate the Department of Transportation. And then I would eliminate the end, he just got stuck. I said, good. Yeah. And he just floundered for a moment, Chris was that you can’t name the third department, you’re gonna eliminate. And he said, oops. And the headline in the national newspapers, the next day was, oops, I made a terrible mistake. And everybody knows that you’re, you’re gonna make mistakes. That’s common. But they don’t want to do it in front of other people. So they just sit back. And that’s so sad. I’m gonna make mistakes in our presentation here. I know that and I want to look good. I want to sound good to your audience. But that’s just part of life. And people that are willing to make those mistakes, can learn from them, and progress, those that don’t just really are held back.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  13:41

Yes, it seems like at a very core level, you have to be willing to make mistakes, everybody makes mistakes. It’s okay for you to do that. But what is a good way for people to proactively get rid of the fear?

Gary Rogers  13:56

Well, number one, learn some public speaking and presentation skills. And many, many skills make a good presenter, or public speaker, learn those skills. And most of all, practice, practice, practice, practice. If you’re going to get up in front of an audience for a formal speech, you need to put that speech together very well. And then you need to be prepared. The only way you can do that is by practicing, know what you’re doing. The greatest fear is to just get up and try to wing it. You need to know what you’re talking about. Otherwise, you are very prone to mistakes. So know your audience, know your subject, put it together properly, learn the skills you need to look good in front of an audience, and practice.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  14:49

Yeah, so okay, so practicing makes a lot of sense. You talk about public speaking skills and wondering for the audience listening today, What is one thing that they are a skill that they can start adapting or something that they can start practicing?

Gary Rogers 15:07

Well, you mentioned when we first came on the air, you like my energy. That’s one thing I would recommend any speaker to use energy. And the best way to do that is through three skills, projection, inflection, and enthusiasm that will carry a speaker so far, and anybody can do it. Now, if I were just sitting down next to you, in a setting talking to you, I wouldn’t be as energized as I am right now, whenever I get on a podcast, or whenever I’m teaching a course, I use a lot more energy. I would tone it down a little bit and I would, I would talk a little bit more like this. Now there’s nothing wrong with the way I’m talking right now. Is there Aydin? 

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  16:05

No, not at all. 

Gary Rogers  16:07

That’s me that’s my normal voice. If I were just sitting right next to you and then carrying on a conversation I would probably be talking like this. years ago, I did some radio announcing them. I remember one commercial I did was for Carlene Black Label, dear. I’m just gonna give you a verse of a dead Happy Holidays ahead days of hospitality friendliness, and the welcome refreshment of Carlin Black Label beer. Now that again, not the way I normally talk, this is the way I normally talk. But if I gave that radio commercial the same way I normally talk, happy holidays and days of hospitality friendliness, and the welcome refreshment of Carlin Black Label beer. Now that’s the way I talk. But you had turned me off the radio instantly. Instead of Happy Holidays ahead. Days of hospitality friendliness, and the welcome refreshment of Carlene Black Label beer. Can you hear a difference? Yep, it’s night and day, it is, I turn up the energy. When I’m on a podcast with you, your audience would go to sleep, if I talked to the way I would normally talk if just you and I are sitting together. But you need to crank up some energy, with projection, inflection enthusiasm, to hold your audience together and you do that wonderfully. You are just an absolute Pro, you’ll come across very smoothly, you’ve got a lot of enthusiasm, you’re easy to listen to. And people won’t turn you off. If you continue to do that. The same thing is true with anybody. If you’re up in front of an audience, saying anything or doing anything, give them projection, so they can hear you, give some inflection in your voice. And most importantly, use some enthusiasm, and you’ll hold their attention a lot longer.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  18:06

Yeah, no, it’s really interesting. I think I might butcher the story. But I remember reading one of my favorite books, I think is called the charisma myth. And in it, they tell this story about how I think it was Marilyn Monroe, and she was gonna go walk down the street. And, and people, like, I think the people that were with her said that, hey, but if you start walking down the street, everyone’s gonna recognize you, and they’re gonna know it’s you. And then she said, No, No, No, they’re not. And so she just walks around and just walks like a normal person. And she’s like, see, nobody will. And then but she’s like, but I can also turn it on. And so she turns it on, and immediately, like, people start to notice her. And so it is, I think like this is a very important point, which is like there is an on-off switch to presentation mode versus talking mode. And if you talk the way that you do on the podcast all the time, in all of your conversations, people would think you’re weird, too. Oh, yeah. And I think this is a very interesting point on energy in general. I want to dig into the other two items that you mentioned as well. So you also mentioned projection and inflection. Let’s start with projection. What is that

Gary Rogers  19:24

Projection is the total quality of your voice. You’re giving more volume is so so key to any speaker in a small room or larger than many times you’ll get in a dozen people and talk just like you would talk if you were right next to an individual that’s not going to cut it in just a dozen people you need to project so every one of those people can hear you. crank up the volume. Don’t go overboard, but crank up the volume, inflection is changing the words to emphasize a point, inflection, instead of inflection, I’m crying, I’m changing the tonal quality of the word inflection. And when I do that, I use my hands, I’m using some gestures, it comes almost automatically. and enthusiasm is something that anybody can use, instead of just talking to an individual, without any enthusiasm, without any projection, without any tonal quality, they’re just kind of a monotone. And again, people are going to turn you off very quickly. If you’re in front of a group, you’ve got to employ those skills, otherwise, you’re going to lose them.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  20:53

Yeah, no, that that’s super interesting. I think like the energy one. It’s interesting the way you define it because it’s also you can tell if someone is passionate about something or not. And, you know, very oftentimes, if you talk about talk to someone about a passion project, you’ll know, you’ll notice that their enthusiasm will change as you’re starting to talk about it. I mean, it works. Yeah. And I start talking about sports, you know, I can talk very passionately about it. And that is contagious. I think passion can be contagious in that way. One tactical question I had about infection, though, was is there, a way that you should think about using it? Like, is it that you may be ending sentences with a lower tone than you start them? Or, like, how do you employ this inflection and practice?

Gary Rogers  21:45

Well, if mothers and fathers do this all the time with their kids? If they’re disciplining their kid, their kids, they’re going to use a projection, inflection, and enthusiasm in a different way to say, Johnny, don’t you dare do that? Instead of Johnny, don’t you dare do that. It doesn’t cover the same power. And get this the message I think the parents want to get across. Sometimes you have to use those tonal qualities to emphasize the point you’re trying to get across. And it is said, in your mind, what do I want to emphasize. And if I’m going to emphasize that word or words, I’m going to need to use some inflection, to emphasize that particular point by just changing the tonal quality of your voice. And people automatically do it without even thinking about it. But then when they get up in front of an audience, if they’re not trained to do it. Ooh, they start to worry. How am I going to make this sound more enthusiastic? People drawback.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  23:04

[AD BREAK BEGINS] Hey, there. Just a quick note, before we move on to the next part, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably already doing one on one meetings. But here’s the thing, we all know that one on one meetings are the most powerful, but at the same time, the most misunderstood concept in practice and management. That’s why we’ve spent over a year compiling the best information, the best expert advice into this beautifully designed 90 Plus page ebook. Now, don’t worry, it’s not a single-spaced font, you know, lots of text. There’s a lot of pictures. It’s nice, easily consumable information, we spent so much time building it. And the great news is that it’s completely free. So head on over to fellow dot app slash blogs to download the definitive guide on one on ones. It’s there for you. We hope you enjoy it. And let us know what you think. And with that said, let’s go back to the interview. [AD BREAK ENDS} One of the interesting things about being remote and hybrid is we start to rely also a lot more on written communication, a lot of chat apps being used, like slack or ms teams. And so what’s interesting is we had another guest on the show, and Cameron Harold and so he was talking about the dangers of written communication. If you take something as basic as any sentence, the example he uses, I didn’t say that you were beautiful. And you emphasize a different word. There’s some you know, each word you emphasize it’s a completely different, you know, understanding. I didn’t say you were beautiful. I didn’t say you’re beautiful and so on . And so, yeah, this, the infection makes it makes a huge difference. So it comes down to what do you want to emphasize

Gary Rogers  24:58

The biggest point that I need to make in communicating with people in an audience, or on a video conference call. And all of my time now is spent on video conference calls, the biggest mistake that people make is not connecting with their audience on a video conference call like Zoom.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  25:19

Because we’re on so many of these zoom calls, I want to talk about projection a little bit. If you’re in a room, and there’s, you know, a bunch of people and say, it’s a larger room, and there are more people, it kind of makes sense to project your voice louder. So that can get to everybody. How do you kind of vary that in a world where you’re on a video conference? And you know, people aren’t that far away? Right? And it’s kind of like a How do you figure out like, when to change into presentation mode and presentation voice? on a video conference, and so for example, if there was only one other person in the video conference, and you went into like presentation, voice, and mode that might come across as insincere. But at some point, if it’s a group of 100 people on a video conference, maybe that voice, and that way of presenting is more of a thing that you should do, how do you think about when to turn it on?

Gary Rogers  26:21

That’s a good question. On a video conference call, you have the luxury of turning your speaker volume up, if you can’t hear the individual that you’re talking to, you don’t have that luxury in person, if you’re just talking to one or say, a dozen people in a conference, and one of those dozen people it’s says something to me, if I can’t hear them very well, I’ll just ask them, I’m sorry, I haven’t troubled hearing you. Could you speak up a little bit, just have to ask him in a smile to speak up? And I do that all the time if I can’t hear them, just to ask them to speak up. Again, and a video conference call, you can crank up the volume, so you can hear them beautifully. That’s one of the real benefits of a video conference call versus being in person. You don’t have to project as much if you will, but you want to crank it up. So that the energy comes through, and you don’t put your people to sleep? Did I answer that question? Yeah,

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  27:29

I guess I’m wondering Is that like, we’ve kind of clearly demonstrated that the video, basically that there is a there is almost like you go into presentation mode. And then you get out of presentation mode. Do you? Is there a difference between if I’m presenting to a group of three people? Or if I’m presenting in front of a group of, you know, 100 people, and it is also on a video conference? Or does it not matter?

Gary Rogers  27:59

In my opinion, there is absolutely no difference whatsoever. If I’m talking to three people on a video conference call, or if I’m talking to 100 people, I’m going to use the same energy, the same inflection, the same enthusiasm in three people or one person or 100. Individuals, I think it’s important to use the same energy talking to each of those individuals. So that again, you don’t put them to sleep.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  28:30

Let’s go into that talking about fear a little bit more. So there’s some sort of tactical tips that we’ve talked about, you know, realizing that everybody makes mistakes, it’s just part of the job. Nobody, I mean, you’re not going to probably not going to get an oops headline. Right. And so with that said, so maybe that alleviates some fear. We talked about practicing a lot, although I’m curious about what you think in terms of if you practice too much, or you memorize a script, what how detrimental that can be, but what other ways, like what else can you do to reduce the fear?

Gary Rogers 29:06

Well, number one is to be prepared. One of the biggest mistakes that people make, is trying to put it here if they’re doing a formal presentation, trying to put that formal presentation down on a piece of paper like this, and memorizing it. As soon as you make one little mistake, which you’re gonna make. You lose your train of thought you start to sweat, that’s the worst thing that you can do. I would suggest putting your thoughts down on paper and go over them over and over and over so that you’ve got those thoughts. It didn’t matter if you make a mistake. You know what you’re talking about, you know what to cover. You don’t want to get in a situation where you’re so structured Do you see it all the time, where a person will get there, their notes or their piece of paper and they’ll start reading from it. the worst thing you can do in a talk if you want to put people to sleep and lose them, read your talk. I never, ever, ever read a talk. Now there are certain times throughout the talk, you might need to read a sentence or quote from somebody. Nothing wrong with that, but read a talk from beginning to end. I, I’ve never done that my entire life, literally. Now, I do have some little three-by-five cards that you can put down and just glance at. Oh, now what do I want to talk about next to just glance at it? Oh, yeah. You’ve got it in your mind. you’ve practiced it over and over, just keep maybe six or seven bullet points on a little three-by-five card to keep you on track. But know what you’re talking about? practice it, and you really can’t go wrong.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  31:08

Yeah, no, this is super interesting. I do agree. It’s, it’s if you don’t you know what you’re talking about. you’ve practiced it, but you don’t want to because otherwise, you know, just send the document to them. And everybody can kind of read it on their own time. read your book. Yeah. And so so this is a this, I think is an important point. What do you say to men memorizing, so should people, you know, memorize. I mean, this is kind of not as bad as reading directly, everything. But should they go about actually memorizing a speech?

Gary Rogers  31:45

Yes, sometimes they should memorize, they should have an elevator speech. And they should know it backward and forwards. If somebody asked you to take one minute and tell them about your business, your company your service, they should have that in their mind, they should have it memorized, so they don’t have to stumble all over the place. I go to a lot of events where people will ask me to spend one minute telling about me, you got to memorize that. Know it in your head so that you can say it instantly when the time comes up. But memorizing is difficult. You got to spend a lot of time that memorization but memorizing a whole talk. I mean, that’s difficult. And you’re going to make a mistake or many mistakes. If it’s a five or a 10-minute talk, you’re and you’re not going to say every word perfectly, I can guarantee it never happened. But memorizing little bits, if you’ve got a little three or four-word, or three or four-sentence, the important point you want to get across memorize it, by all means. So you can say it without floundering.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  33:00

Yeah. So I think you know, one of the important points for I think for, for everyone, for the listeners to kind of take away here is that you know, we call it public speaking. But obviously, this is just communication with people in general. And the number of people who are in the audience matters. But I think like the other thing that matters is, is the importance of what is being said. So if you’re communicating, for example, really critical feedback, that is going to be tough to digest, that should certainly be the sort of thing that you’re practicing, potentially memorizing, and even maybe rehearsing with someone else. Because at the end of the day, for something so important, it doesn’t matter, like what your intention was or how you communicated it, but how the person understood it. And again, it’s about now for every piece of feedback, you don’t do that. But the more the importance increases, then that’s something that that you need to spend more time on. So I think all the things that you’re talking about, make a lot of sense if you have a 50 person audience and like this is during a meeting. I mean, this is 50 people that are maybe going to spend 20 or 30 minutes with you. That’s a lot of, you know, hours put together. So it does make sense because this is an opportunity to communicate a message and communicated clearly. If you’re not spending the time to practice it, like you’re saying, then this is poor utilization that of that timing. And so the practice does have a huge impact

Gary Rogers  34:38

It does. We’re living at such an incredible age. The whole world can pick up video conferencing for free, it doesn’t cost a penny. You can talk to anybody in any corner of the world with an internet connection. It has become the most powerful promotional sales tool I’ve ever seen. But whenever You turn on your webcam, your public speaking, you’re talking to somebody, and people get frightened that they need to learn those skills.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  35:08

Yeah. And, Gary, what you mentioned is that, you know, used to do this in the old days of basically making sure that you record these beatings. But now, like, you know, most meetings are recorded. And so this is just an opportunity for people to go back, watch the way they presented, watch the way they projected their inflections and their energy and enthusiasm. And try and improve this over time. One of the things that we like to say is that Supermanagers are constantly working on their craft. And I think it’s very important to note that public speaking is a very important tool in the toolkit, and it needs to be worked on constantly. This is a question that I have for you, which is, you know, I feel like it sounds like you have been working on your craft of public speaking for a long time. And you’ve taught a lot of people about it. But what’s one of the things that, you know, you have learned Are you employed today, that maybe even 10, 15 years into your career, where most people would arguably say you were very good

Gary Rogers  36:19

Well, doing it over and over and over and over again, practice, practice, practice making mistakes. When I was a little kid, I was very, very shy. I’m still shy, and most people would never believe that. But to get up in front of people, when I was small, scared me to death. And I had to learn how to do that. I had a wonderful, wonderful teacher in high school, that type of speech, it was one of the greatest courses I ever took in my life. And it changed my life, just as a high school teacher. I was frightened when I started. But I kept trying and trying and trying. And that’s the only way that people can learn anything is to get out and do it and make mistakes, and realize the mistakes you’re making and improve them and work on it. The more you do it, the better you become like anything that you do in life is just as a skill that you have to perfect with training. You need to know the skills that need to be taught to you. And you need to work on it. And the more you do it, the better you’ll become.

Aydin Mirzaee (Fellow.app)  37:40

And that’s great advice, Gary, and then also a great place to end it. Thanks so much for doing this.

Gary Rogers  37:46

Thank you so much. You’ve been just so great to work with. I can’t thank you enough. Thank you, Aydin.

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