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Interview: Bobbie Carlton on the Value of Speaker Friends
Episode 319th July 2022 • Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking • Kirsten Rourke
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In Episode 3 of Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking, Kirsten talks with Bobbie Carlton, founder of Innovation Women, an online visibility bureau on a mission to get more women speaking on stages and at events.

Bobbie talks about why Innovation Women is her dream job and what she wishes she knew when she first started public speaking. She shares the value of speakers having speaker friends and how ongoing mastery shows up in her life and work. You’ll also hear Bobbie’s perspective on the biggest challenge that many speakers face as they get used to being on stage and her #1 piece of advice for speakers working in virtual spaces.

Key take-aways:

  • What does Bobbie wish she knew when she first started her public speaking career?
  • What is the biggest challenge many speakers face as they get used to being onstage?
  • Bobbie’s #1 piece of advice for presenters and speakers working in virtual spaces

Join our Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking Skills group on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/14104216/


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To read a transcript of this episode: https://share.descript.com/view/U4ZylMRk8gU

  • The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirstenrourke/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kirstenmalenarourke

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kirstenrourke?lang=en

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rourketraining/

Transcripts

Kirsten:

Welcome to Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking.

Kirsten:

It's a podcast and a community.

Kirsten:

I'm Kirsten Rourke, speaker, presenter, and founder of Rourke Training.

Kirsten:

And this is Kellie.

Kellie:

Hey, there I'm Kellie, producer, writer, and herder of cats.

Kirsten:

Oh, so many cats.

Kirsten:

After over 20 years a speaker and presenter, I've seen it all

Kirsten:

and I'm sharing it with you.

Kirsten:

Ongoing mastery about continual improvement of your craft.

Kirsten:

You'll learn tips and hear from industry leaders.

Kirsten:

I'll tell you straight up what works and what doesn't, so you can thrive.

Kirsten:

Let's get started.

Kirsten:

Welcome to episode three.

Kirsten:

We've got an interview with Bobbie Carlton of Innovation Women today.

Kellie:

I am stoked!

Kellie:

The weekly Friday Zoom calls from members of Innovation Women

Kellie:

are so interesting, so helpful.

Kellie:

Can't wait to hear more of what Bobbie has to say.

Kirsten:

So let's get to the interview now.

Kirsten:

Fantastic.

Kirsten:

Thank you Bobbie for coming.

Kirsten:

I really appreciate it.

Kirsten:

Welcome, welcome, welcome.

Kirsten:

How are you today?

Bobbie:

Absolutely.

Kirsten:

Good

Bobbie:

Thanks for having me.

Kirsten:

So I wanted to start out with asking you to just describe a little bit

Kirsten:

about yourself and your many, many jobs

Kirsten:

. Bobbie: So, I usually tell people I

Kirsten:

the night job, and the dream job.

Kirsten:

The day job is I run a PR and marketing firm.

Kirsten:

The night job is something called Innovation Nights, which

Kirsten:

is a new product launch event.

Kirsten:

We launched about 1500 new products in the Boston market, over an 11 year period.

Kirsten:

Wow.

Bobbie:

And the dream job is Innovation Women, and the dream is more women

Bobbie:

on stage at conferences and events.

Bobbie:

And I also added two more companies over the pandemic, so My Speaker Leads

Kirsten:

Like one does,

Bobbie:

Like you do,

Kirsten:

yeah,

Bobbie:

like one does.

Kirsten:

Yeah.

Bobbie:

Pandemic retail therapy.

Bobbie:

So, My Speaker Leads, a hundred leads per week for speakers, and Lioness

Bobbie:

Magazine for the female entrepreneur.

Bobbie:

The idea is, again, more visibility.

Bobbie:

I have a theme.

Kirsten:

I love it.

Kirsten:

I love it.

Kirsten:

So on that, on that idea, what, what can you tell about

Kirsten:

your experience with speaking?

Bobbie:

Sorry.

Bobbie:

So for many, many years, my own speaking was actually relatively limited.

Bobbie:

My job was to get executives on stage.

Bobbie:

I was the head of global PR for a couple of big enterprise software companies.

Bobbie:

I worked for agencies.

Bobbie:

I worked for some startups.

Bobbie:

And it was all about me getting someone else on stage.

Bobbie:

So it really wasn't until I had my own companies that I realized I had

Bobbie:

a need to step up on stage myself.

Bobbie:

And I will be perfectly blunt, those early speaking engagements

Bobbie:

were Ooh, catastrophic,

Kirsten:

educational

Bobbie:

yeah,

Kirsten:

educational.

Kirsten:

That's what they were.

Bobbie:

I was educated to the fact that I will sweat through my clothing, that

Bobbie:

I will look like a hot mess on stage.

Kirsten:

Oh,

Bobbie:

Yeah, it was, it was

Kirsten:

yeah.

Bobbie:

a prime example of somebody who is not comfortable

Bobbie:

and who needs much more practice.

Kirsten:

Yep.

Kirsten:

It is, it is not a native environment.

Kirsten:

Not at all.

Kirsten:

So, when thinking about, and this actually ties into that, when you were

Kirsten:

first starting, what, what do you wish, what advice do you wish you were given?

Kirsten:

Or what things do you wish that, like, you knew before you started?

Bobbie:

It will get better.

Bobbie:

You will get better.

Bobbie:

I think that, you know, I spent so many years teaching other people how

Bobbie:

to do it, that I internalized a lot of the lessons, but I didn't apply them.

Bobbie:

And so that first time that I got on stage for my own companies

Bobbie:

was actually at my own event.

Bobbie:

I started this social media powered new product launch night in Boston.

Bobbie:

And this was 2009.

Bobbie:

And I swear, I went into that first event not even thinking about the fact

Bobbie:

that I was going to have to be the host.

Bobbie:

I was going to have to be the MC.

Bobbie:

I was going to have to be the entertainment committee, and I was going

Bobbie:

to have to step out on stage pretty much every single time I did this.

Bobbie:

And, like, all of a sudden, I step out on stage and oh, by the way,

Bobbie:

I'd been rolling out tables and moving boxes of bottled water.

Bobbie:

And, you know, I looked the part.

Bobbie:

So good.

Bobbie:

And then I'm like, I'm gonna have to speak.

Bobbie:

Ah, yeah.

Bobbie:

And, and, you know, no prep, you know, everything wrong, everything

Bobbie:

that I tell everybody not to do.

Bobbie:

Think ahead,

Kirsten:

So that was

Bobbie:

plan ahead, all of these things.

Bobbie:

Nope.

Bobbie:

Nothing just stepped out on stage and was a hot mess.

Kirsten:

And that was the beginning of Innovation Nights, right?

Bobbie:

That was the beginning of Innovation Nights.

Bobbie:

And by the way, social media powered event, what does that mean?

Bobbie:

That means that everybody had their camera focused on me.

Bobbie:

So

Kirsten:

Oh goody

Bobbie:

there was tons of evidence of how bad I was.

Kirsten:

But you got better.

Bobbie:

Yes.

Bobbie:

Because you look back

Kirsten:

And it was hit

Bobbie:

and go, oh, huge hit, like, hundreds of people.

Bobbie:

And, and everybody's like, "Yeah, we're doing this next month," and I'm like, "no"

Kirsten:

Do I have to?

Bobbie:

But you see all those videos and pictures and you go,

Bobbie:

"Oh, I better get better, fast."

Bobbie:

So you go to school.

Bobbie:

No.

Kirsten:

Awesome.

Bobbie:

You, you say, "I'm never doing that again," and you get better, and

Bobbie:

you get better each and every time.

Bobbie:

You look at what you do and you figure out how you could do it better.

Kirsten:

So you have a really very organized, very ingrained

Kirsten:

network that you've built of speakers supporting speakers

Bobbie:

Yes.

Kirsten:

Which is the Innovation Women community.

Kirsten:

How does having a, how does having speaker friends, why

Kirsten:

does that matter for speakers?

Kirsten:

Why is that important?

Bobbie:

Speaker friends!

Bobbie:

I love the concept of speaker friends.

Bobbie:

I'm a big fan of speaker friends, as you can probably tell.

Kirsten:

Yes.

Bobbie:

So, number one, I think speaker friends are so important

Bobbie:

because only other speakers will tell you the real deal.

Bobbie:

Only other speaker friends know the pain, know the challenge, know

Bobbie:

the reality, and only other speaker friends will give you real feedback.

Bobbie:

All your friends, they see you do a thing on stage and you get off stage and they

Bobbie:

go, "There, there, that was awesome.

Bobbie:

You were great."

Bobbie:

And you're like, "Uh, really?

Bobbie:

Okay."

Bobbie:

But other speakers will say to you like, "Hey, you looked a little rushed,"

Bobbie:

or "Hey, maybe if you did this."

Bobbie:

Like, if you've got that, like, super close speaker friend relationship, you

Bobbie:

can get real feedback, not platitudes.

Kirsten:

Nice.

Kirsten:

And, and they also give you the, what you did well when

Kirsten:

you feel like you wrecked it.

Bobbie:

Yeah.

Kirsten:

Yeah.

Bobbie:

Like, you know, there's a lot of times you get up on stage and

Bobbie:

you're like, "Well, I blew that," and you know, another speaker will

Bobbie:

say, "Oh, I didn't see a thing."

Bobbie:

You know, it's like you recover.

Bobbie:

You are often magnifying any stumble, any problem that you have on stage.

Bobbie:

It blows up in your head.

Kirsten:

Yeah.

Bobbie:

But only you know what you intended to say.

Bobbie:

Only you know where you think you were going before you corrected the

Bobbie:

ship and went in another direction.

Kirsten:

Awesome.

Bobbie:

No, speaker friends will tell you the truth.

Kirsten:

So the podcast is Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking.

Kirsten:

When you think about the phrase "ongoing mastery," how does that show

Kirsten:

up for you in your life and your work?

Bobbie:

Yeah.

Bobbie:

I I've always called it, "going to school."

Bobbie:

And I believe that life gives us all of these opportunities to go to

Bobbie:

school on a daily basis if we go into every engagement, every minute of

Bobbie:

our lives with the attitude of "What can I learn from this situation?

Bobbie:

What can I learn from these people?

Bobbie:

What can I learn from this organization?"

Bobbie:

You know, we have so many opportunities right now to learn.

Bobbie:

We have this whole thing called the internet.

Bobbie:

Like, I don't know about you, but I remember having to get on my bike and ride

Bobbie:

to the town library, which by the way, was sad and tiny, and look up something.

Bobbie:

And, you know, it's like, gosh, this book from 1952, you think maybe

Bobbie:

there's more recent information?

Bobbie:

Could be, but it's not in my library.

Bobbie:

Now we can look up anything we want.

Bobbie:

We can watch videos.

Bobbie:

And as a speaker, things like TED and TEDx, like the gold standard

Bobbie:

of public speaking is there for us.

Bobbie:

Thousands upon thousands of examples.

Bobbie:

We could watch examples all day long and every single one of

Bobbie:

them would teach us something.

Kirsten:

Nice.

Kirsten:

And, and that's perfect transition.

Kirsten:

Thank you.

Kirsten:

Because when I started, watching myself on camera was the worst

Kirsten:

experience I could possibly imagine.

Kirsten:

How did you, how did you get comfortable?

Kirsten:

Or have you gotten comfortable with seeing your own work on camera?

Bobbie:

Nope.

Kirsten:

Still painful.

Bobbie:

Still painful.

Bobbie:

Necessary, but painful.

Bobbie:

You do it.

Bobbie:

You have to do it to get better.

Kirsten:

So what do you look for when you're looking at yourself in a recording?

Kirsten:

What stuff are you looking for?

Bobbie:

I am looking for, well, let, I'm actually gonna start off

Bobbie:

with what I'm not looking for.

Bobbie:

I'm not looking for whatever weird faces I'm making.

Bobbie:

I am the queen of weird faces.

Bobbie:

I, I would love to have an Instagram called Really Bad Speaker Photos, and I

Bobbie:

would be the queen of this land, because I am so excellent at being caught with

Bobbie:

my arms flailing and making a weird face.

Bobbie:

So whenever I'm watching myself, I have to kind of like put it

Bobbie:

aside and say, "You know what?

Bobbie:

Weird faces aside.

Bobbie:

Am I delivering my message?

Bobbie:

Am I being clear?

Bobbie:

Am I going too fast?

Bobbie:

Am I pausing strangely or am I pausing appropriately?"

Bobbie:

One of the problems that I have sometimes is I will repeat myself.

Bobbie:

I will say the same thing in slightly different way.

Bobbie:

And I'm always watching for those because it's a habit I'm trying to break.

Bobbie:

So I've identified problems that I see in my presentations, and I look for places

Bobbie:

where I do it so I can stop myself.

Kirsten:

And how often do you celebrate what you did well?

Bobbie:

Oh, not nearly enough.

Bobbie:

What a great question.

Bobbie:

What a great reminder to do that.

Bobbie:

You know, I actually love listening to myself on podcasts.

Bobbie:

My background, I started out my career in radio and so I always

Bobbie:

feel very comfortable with my voice.

Bobbie:

That I enjoy, and I'm like, "Yep, not bad."

Bobbie:

Yeah.

Bobbie:

Like a lot of people are like, "Ugh, I don't wanna listen to my voice."

Kirsten:

Mm-hmm

Bobbie:

and I'm like, you know what?

Bobbie:

I'm comfortable with my voice.

Bobbie:

I understand that it could potentially be a monotone, so I'm very good

Bobbie:

at coming up with the, the silly voices for emphasis or raising and

Bobbie:

lowering, speeding up, slowing down.

Kirsten:

Yep.

Bobbie:

I'm good at that.

Bobbie:

So I enjoy listening to the podcasts more than I enjoy watching myself.

Kirsten:

So you were on radio before you moved to stage?

Bobbie:

Yes.

Kirsten:

So how, how was it for you to learn the, the,

Kirsten:

essentially, the choreography, the floor work of stagecraft?

Bobbie:

Don't think I have yet.

Kirsten:

I've seen you present.

Kirsten:

I, I've seen your work.

Kirsten:

I think you have, I have that suspicion.

Kirsten:

So what, so the transition to stage work, when you were coaching people

Kirsten:

on stuff, what was, what was some of the stuff that you needed to kind

Kirsten:

of pull people out to have them do more of, or have them be bigger?

Bobbie:

I think one of the things is, for a lot of people,

Bobbie:

realizing that when you're working on stage, you're working big.

Bobbie:

And so a lot of people have a tendency to hold their hands in front of

Bobbie:

themselves and make their motions small, but also kind of against

Bobbie:

their own bodies, where they haven't learned to kind of step to the side.

Bobbie:

I call it the Vanna, if you remember Vanna White.

Kirsten:

Yes.

Bobbie:

Vanna white was excellent with moving to the side and

Bobbie:

showing things to the side.

Bobbie:

And I think that a lot of people, if they start off with things

Bobbie:

like numbering, number one, number two, they do it in front of their

Bobbie:

bodies, instead of off to the side.

Bobbie:

So that was like a very specific thing that I remember working with speakers

Bobbie:

on, was getting them to work to the side.

Kirsten:

I like it.

Kirsten:

And, and in that, so last question, in the same area, when

Kirsten:

I'm working with people online,

Bobbie:

mm-hmm

Kirsten:

they tend to work too small.

Bobbie:

Yes.

Kirsten:

What, what would you advise people, especially when they're coming

Kirsten:

from having done it in person, and then you lose a lot of your tools

Kirsten:

online, what, what kind of guidance would you give people who are opening

Kirsten:

into the virtual speaking world?

Bobbie:

Number one, think about your tools.

Bobbie:

Okay, make sure you've got the good webcam.

Bobbie:

Make sure you've got the good mic.

Bobbie:

Make sure it's set up properly.

Bobbie:

And make sure that you're setting up your camera and your video so that

Bobbie:

you are actually looking in the video.

Bobbie:

I recall very early on in the pandemic.

Bobbie:

Seeing a lot of speakers do this.

Bobbie:

And then when I say do this, [Bobbie turns her head to look off camera]

Kirsten:

Looking off to the side, yes.

Bobbie:

They're doing, they're, they're looking at something that I don't see.

Kirsten:

Yep.

Bobbie:

And it's the two screens, right?

Bobbie:

You know, they're, they're looking at their second screen.

Bobbie:

They don't know where their camera is.

Bobbie:

So thinking about your tools just, just helps so much understanding your tools

Bobbie:

and how they work, that's just, you're probably 50% of the battle right there.

Bobbie:

So get comfortable with your tools and, you know, one of the things about the

Bobbie:

Friday morning Zoom calls that we do for Innovation Women, it really started out is

Bobbie:

getting people to practice being on Zoom.

Bobbie:

You know, we do little things like we have a 15 second introduction.

Bobbie:

That 15 second introduction is timed by a timer.

Bobbie:

It keeps us relatively honest.

Bobbie:

And what it does is, it gets people really good at introducing themselves.

Bobbie:

They, they give their name, their company name, or their organization

Bobbie:

name, and they tell a little bit about themselves and they set the hook.

Bobbie:

They get people interested in what they're doing.

Bobbie:

And just these little things that you practice over and over again,

Bobbie:

they become a place of comfort.

Bobbie:

You can go to those words, you can go to that introduction any time you need to.

Bobbie:

So the more you practice anything, the better you get.

Kirsten:

So with Innovation Women, how would people find it and who is welcome?

Bobbie:

Number one, I'm going to answer the second question first.

Bobbie:

Everybody's welcome.

Bobbie:

What kind of an organization devoted to diversity, gender equity, and inclusion

Bobbie:

would I be if I excluded anybody?

Bobbie:

And number two, you can find us at innovationwomen.com.

Kirsten:

Perfect.

Kirsten:

Thank you so much.

Kirsten:

This was great.

Kirsten:

I really appreciate your time, and I, I love the fact that I get to see you

Kirsten:

at Innovation Women talks every Friday, so I will definitely see you again.

And, one final thing:

Is there anything else you want people

And, one final thing:

to know about your work?

And, one final thing:

Anything coming up, any promotion you would like to share?

Bobbie:

I think just checking out innovationwomen.com and understanding

Bobbie:

that we are there to help.

Bobbie:

My goal is to get more women on stage at conferences and events, because two thirds

Bobbie:

of all conference speakers are men and that's what Innovation Women's mission is.

Kirsten:

And on that note, I'm gonna wrap up and I will see you later,

Kirsten:

and we'll hop back to the podcast.

Kirsten:

Thank you so much for coming, Bobbie.

Kirsten:

I really appreciate it.

Bobbie:

Thank you.

Kirsten:

That was really cool.

Kellie:

Loved it.

Kirsten:

I love talking to Bobbie.

Kirsten:

I love her experience, her sense of humor.

Kirsten:

What did you guys take away from it?

Kirsten:

In the comments, tell me what your favorite moment from that interview was.

Kirsten:

And we'll see you next time.

Kellie:

Cheers.

Kirsten:

Thank you for joining us for Ongoing Mastery: Presenting & Speaking,

Kirsten:

the podcast for everyone who wants to work on their own skills and lift up others.

Kirsten:

If you enjoyed this episode, continue the conversation on our

Kirsten:

Ongoing Mastery LinkedIn group.

Kirsten:

The link is in the show notes.

Kirsten:

Share the love on social media and tell your friends about the podcast.

Kirsten:

Be sure to catch our next episode

Kellie:

and hit the subscribe button.

Kirsten:

Until next time.

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