Ep10: Communicating as a thought leader through speaking and workshops with Alexia Vernon

TalentGrow Podcast interview with Alexia Vernon

Do you want to enhance your communication skills? Would you like to be known as a thought-leader to accelerate your career and success? Communication and leadership expert Alexia Vernon and I talk about how she has found success doing just that, and how she teaches others to do the same. Learn how to become a better speaker, presenter, and communicator and how to be better as a leader by connecting with your audience and showing your true self in an impactful way. Be sure to check our Alexia's free video training and leave a comment about your insights and feedback.

What you’ll learn:

Listen to Stitcher
  • How to develop your speaking and communication style to become known as a thought leader in your field
  • Why connecting with your audience and listeners is key
  • How important it is to allow yourself to be vulnerable and real to create true connection with listeners
  • Why creating talks and workshops is a really great way to network, build your personal brand, and become a go-to leader (even if you want to keep your corporate job)
  • What’s a special way Alexia creates major breakthroughs for the leaders she coaches and how you can leverage the same technique (hint: no talking is involved!)
  • Ways in which you can personally leverage TEDx events to grow your brand and what the best-kept secret is that many organizations aren’t tapping into this amazing source of thought leadership and brand awareness
  • What is the important, actionable tip that Alexia suggests will dramatically improve all of your communication interactions, whether in front of an audience or 1:1.

About Alexia Vernon

Branded a “Moxie Maven” by the White House for her unique and effective approach to developing rising female leaders, Alexia Vernon has become a go-to thought leader, speaker, coach and trainer for executives, entrepreneurs and rising leaders.  Specializing in women’s communication and leadership development (and embraced by men as well as women because of her powerful storytelling, infectious humor and no nonsense solutions), Alexia is the Founder of Influencer Academy. A skill-based women’s leadership development program (offered in Las Vegas and available on site for companies across the U.S. and Canada), Influencer Academy provides hands-on coaching and training in such critical leadership areas as public speaking, persuasion, negotiation, coaching, facilitation and thought leadership. The co-host of Las Vegas’ TEDxWomen event, Alexia is also the creator of Your Spotlight Talk, a virtual training program that teaches participants how to create, book and perform a TED-style talk. Alexia also leads Your Spotlight Workshop, an 8-week group coaching program where entrepreneurs, educators and thought leaders learn how to monetize their expertise through developing and facilitating one-of-a-kind workshops. Whether she’s dishing advice with media such as CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal, Inc., Women’s Health Magazine and Forbes—or keynoting a professional conference, entrepreneurial summit or corporate event—Alexia is unparalleled in her ability to move audiences to identify and slay their limiting beliefs, reflect and reframe thinking and behavior, and take aggressive and achievable action. Alexia is the author of the ATD Press book, 90 Days 90 Ways: Onboard Young Professionals to Peak Performance.

RESOURCES

Visit Alexia Vernon’s website, alexiavernon.com

Get Alexia’s free Workshops that Wow video series!

Alexia’s book, 90 Days 90 Ways: Onboard Young Professionals to Peak Performance

Connect with Alexia on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Periscope

Intro/outro music for The TalentGrow Show: "Why-Y" by Esta - a great band of exquisitely talented musicians, and good friends of mine.

TRANSCRIPT

Announcer: Welcome to the TalentGrow Show, where you can get actionable results-oriented insight and advice on how to take your leadership, communication and people skills to the next level and become the kind of leader people want to follow. And now, your host and leadership development strategist, Halelly Azulay.

Halelly: Welcome back to the TalentGrow Show. I can’t believe this is episode 10 already. It’s been so much fun and I look forward to continuing to provide you with ways in which you can become a better leader. In this episode, I interview my friend Alexia Vernon who is a women’s communication and leadership expert and the creator of several programs that help people find their voice, become better presenters and be know as thought leaders. The White House called Alexia Moxie Maven so you should check it out. I think that a lot of leaders don’t really think about becoming a thought leader or being known as a thought leader, but it is something that’s going to help you differentiate yourself and really accelerate your leadership skills and career. So, take a listen and let me know what you thought afterwards in the comments. Thank you for tuning in to the TalentGrow Show. Here we go.

Welcome back to the TalentGrow Show. I’m Halelly Azulay, your leadership development strategist and I’m excited to introduce my friend and colleague Alexia Vernon to the show. Alexia is one of those people that is one to watch. She climbs and races and pushes boundaries and I really admire the work that she’s done. She’s a go-to thought leader, speaker, coach, trainer. She works with executives. She works with entrepreneurs. She works with rising leaders and she specializes in women’s communication and leadership development. But she also works with men because, let’s face it, she is very good at what she does. She’s the founder of Influencer Academy, which is a skills-based women’s leadership development program, and she has also launched recently two different other programs – Your Spotlight Talk, a virtual training program that teaches participants how to create, book and perform a Ted style talk, and Your Spotlight Workshop, which is her newest endeavor, an eight-week coaching program where entrepreneurs, educators and thought leaders learn how to monetize their expertise through developing and facilitating one of a kind workshops. Alexia was called Moxie Maven by the White House for her effective approach to developing rising female leaders, and the reason I met Alexia for the first time is because we both authored a book that was published by ATD press – well, we didn’t author the same book. She authored a book and I authored a book, and they were published within a month or two of each other, and ATD, the Association for Talent Development, launched our books at their big, international conference in 2012, and we were there, featured on a panel of authors to talk about our experience in publishing. And so I was very fortunate to meet Alexia then. The book is 90 Days, 90 Ways: Onboarding Young Professionals to Peak Performance. Alexia, welcome to the TalentGrow Show.

Alexia: Thank you so much! This is going to be a blast. I just got happy, felt like happy butterflies were flapping in my chest as you talked about that time in 2012, because it was really nice to have somebody by my side who was going through that same process.

Halelly: It was really fun. It was an exciting time for both of us, I know. It’s like giving birth to a child, giving birth to a book. A huge big deal. And I’ve been really happy that we have been able to make this journey together, kind of compatriots along the same path and to observe and see how much you’ve grown your business and your audience, and so I’m excited to bring your perspective onto the show. Because I think people can learn a lot from you. Before we get into what they can learn from you, because there is so much I want to cover with you, just if you could give a little bit of a big picture view of your professional journey? Where have you been and how did you get to this point?

Alexia: Absolutely. I will give the cliff notes version, because I’m sure as we keep talking, a lot of my biography will come out in some of the stories that I share. I never envisioned that I would go into the learning and development profession, even though when I look back on my career – you know, hindsight is always 20/20, it seems so obvious that would be the work that I was doing. But I was really passionate growing up about theater. And running parallel to that was my background of having gone to an all girls' middle school and high school and having loved that experience. And when I was in college I studied women’s studies and wound up launching a girls leadership program. Then, when I graduated from college, I had a desire to move to New York, and I really wanted to pursue the theater strand. Just see where that went. And I was in an interdisciplinary studies program at NYU and wound up walking into an assistantship that wound up becoming my first job, working for an educational theater company being housed in the professional development plan. And so I didn’t have a real traditional training experience, in that I worked for a nonprofit that was housed in university, led teacher training. We did a lot of interactive training for teachers and social workers and youth development professionals, teaching them how to use a variety of interactive drama and facilitation strategies with young people to talk about difficult issues.

Loved that experience. Did not love the nonprofit salary. And as I moved into management, also started to feel stifled, being more of an administrator rather than a practitioner. And in that journey of trying to figure out what does “next” look like, is there a possibility for me making more in the course of a year than I owed in student loans and the reality of it being on the cusp of getting married to my longtime partner and I wound up going to coach training school, to Coach U to get certified as a coach. Not 100 percent sure what that would look like, and my exit strategy was keeping my employer at the time on as a consultant, getting to lead a few professional development programs while teaching for universities and public speaking and women’s studies. And quite frankly, I did not have a clean break. I think there are a lot of people who build up their “side hustle” and then just make a departure. For me, I jumped probably a little too early, and so I kept teaching, even though I loved teaching. It just took me a while to get my coaching and training business to where I wanted it to be. And ultimately decided, as you identified in my bio, that while I could coach and train on nonprofit issues, I could coach and train on education issues, the book I put out through ADT Press was all about how to effectively recruit and retain millennials. What I really, really enjoyed most was working on issues of voice and communication and thought leadership, and that’s what I’ve been doing with a particular focus on women now for the last five years.

Halelly: That makes perfect sense, so it’s a really good way for you to tie all of your various experiences and interests together in what is something that is unique to, something that you can offer uniquely to the world, and I think that’s probably why it’s so valuable to the people who come and learn from you.

Alexia: Thank you. Like you, I’ve always been an enthusiastic learner, had a passion for education. I remember being a kid and going on my street where I lived, growing up in Seattle, and trying to bribe the other kids in my neighborhood with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to have them just let me come and teach some ballet and social studies. I was always very geeky in that way. But I didn’t realize for a long time that there was a way to be passionate about learning and development that also didn't have you go broke! That’s one of the things I know we’ll talk about today is how to be able to do the work and to monetize it in an effect way, and man did I struggle in that area for a long, long time.

Halelly: That’s funny. It’s funny, because when I was little I used to teach everything too. I always used to teach people and I was a dance teacher when I was a teenager. And talk about no career aspirations there for any kind of money!

Alexia: That’s so interesting, because I don’t know if you know this – clearly haven’t exchanged this story – but that’s what I did in college. I taught ballet to teenagers at the Las Vegas, gosh, the Las Vegas Ballet Theater. It’s not around anymore, but that’s just too funny with that comment.

Halelly: I was teaching jazz and ballroom. And I was a competitive ballroom dancer – I wanted to be a dancer when I grew up.

Alexia: Absolutely positively obsessed with Dancing With the Stars. Got to be in the live audience – I know we’re digressing here – but I love that we have more affinities than we even knew.

Halelly: That’s funny. No wonder we feel like sisters, right? Very cool. Well, I’ve observed a lot of the work that you’re doing and I can tell you’re really making a lot of positive effects on people, and I know that you have worked with people who are either aspiring leaders or currently leaders and you’re helping them really make big shifts. And I wonder what are some of the most important changes that you’ve seen some of these leaders or aspiring leaders make that help them become more effective in their leadership? So maybe even if you can share a story about one or two of these kinds of shifts that you’ve seen, and what was it?

Alexia: One of the biggest things I see, particularly with emerging female leaders, so talking about women who might be in their late 20s to early 40s, which certainly is a large span of somebody’s career. But depending on how one was impacted by the recession, I find that sometimes a 28-year-old’s career can be in a very similar place to a 40-year-old. But with that said, in Influencer Academy, that’s the kind of women who typically is sponsored by her organization to participate or chooses to participate on her own. And in this last cohort, there’s actually two women who worked for the same company who were sponsored who each had very different trajectories, but each of them went through a big breakthrough around her sense of what it means to be a leader.

Halelly: And just to stop you for a second, I think I didn’t say it earlier, but Influencer Academy, it’s a nine-month program, right?

Alexia: It’s a nine-month program which is why my head went there immediately, because when you have that opportunity to work with people face-to-face over nine months, you really see really beautiful breakthroughs. One of the women was on the fast track in her organization and they said, “She’s a phenomenal presenter, but …” and there’s always a but, “We’re concerned about her ability to potentially manage. And she’s gotten to where she’s gotten because she’s a technical expert. She is the best of the best at what she does. But, we would like to see her move into a leadership position. She’s going to have to coach. She’s going to have to give feedback, and we’re just concerned that she may not be a people developer yet.” And so I remember when she came in at the beginning of the program, and she said, “I’m so excited about the content. I’m going to rock the presentation days. I’m a little concerned that I’m seeing that a lot of people are crying and I’m not a crier.” And I think that crying, whether you’re male or female, everybody has a different perspective on it. And so of course my goal is not to make her goal. Rather help her develop the tools to recognize that if people around her cried, this did not mean they weren’t trying hard enough or that she had to push them more or that she had to walk on eggshells around them, but how to develop that emotional intelligence and emotional competence to be able to be with people and their emotions.

So while it may not sound like something big and sexy – did she get a fancy title by the end of the program? Yes she did. But what was more beautiful was hearing her and her colleague who is in the program with her describe her capacity to be just so much more emotionally mature and sensitive with her colleagues, where they felt safe coming to her. She could be vulnerable with them. And what’s interesting is that her colleague who did the program with her had quite the opposite journey. She was very comfortable with her emotions, had a very hard time presenting. Would break out into sweats, would often bring in dialects and funny voices to try to engender respect from the audience and so her path was learning to tell a story in front of an audience – because she is a trainer – and be comfortable and let people see her as her rather than her put on a persona. And I love listening to her tell stories now, because although before it sounded like she could be a stand-up comic and that was certainly entertaining, you never felt like the story was in service of the audience, and that’s ultimately what a great trainer knows how to do is not tell a story and be a great performer for his or her sake, but how to tell a story so that it inspires the person who is listening to be able to take action and transform.

Halelly: It’s interesting. So it sounds like even though they had very different journeys, each of them needed to learn how to be other focused, and service focused from their own vantage point to really make that big shift to becoming a leader.

Alexia: Yes. It’s always that integration of how do you know yourself enough to recognize your strengths as well as your blind spots. And then without changing the fundamentals of you, how do you perhaps get comfortable with some of the areas of you that you try to hide, so that you can be 100-percent as you identify it oriented toward the people you are speaking to or that you’re trying to serve.

Halelly: Well, it sounds like it really reaped very good results for them, and if we had more time I have a million questions I would like to ask you. But how did you do that? Especially the one with the building emotional intelligence and making her more comfortable. Is there something small, like a nugget, that you can share about that?

Alexia: There’s an essential element of what I do as a coach, with almost everybody, that I’m happy to share. And that’s giving people opportunities to be quiet and still in moments where they’re uncomfortable as a coach and not just talking over them and making it easy for them to move on. And what I mean by that is, I can ask a question that’s as simple as, “What bugs you most about when that happens?” And then the tendency is that the person is going to look at you – or if you’re coaching virtually and you can’t see that person’s face – no matter what, there’s going to be that awkward silence. And as a coach, I definitely don’t love allowing silence to go on for what feels like ever, but can sometimes be a minute. And yet I know that it’s important for me to put my hand over my mouth, metaphorically if not literally, so that that person can give an honest response and not just zip through that discomfort. And so I remember asking questions similar to that to the first woman I was detailing, and she actually did get a little emotional and she said, “I’m uncomfortable with other people’s emotions because I’m concerned that my emotions are going to come up and then people won’t respect me. And I’m in my 20s and I have to do everything in my power to work against that age deficit and for me to step into my power, I’m just concerned that my emotions will get in my own way.” And of course, we know that there’s a difference between feeling your emotions and expressing our emotions. And the more we allow ourselves to feel them, yes, there might be a tear that drops or there might be a moment where we shake a little or get sweaty, but the truth is when that emotion can move through, A, it’s usually an opportunity for other people to see us as more credible because we’re real and we’re not hiding behind a mask or hiding behind our authority, but B, then it moves and then we’re back to us and we can move on and it doesn’t become as big of a deal as we think it’s going to be.

Halelly: That’s really good insight. It both connects you better with people and it helps you dissipate that so that you can move forward rather than spending all your energy compressing, or suppressing.

Alexia: Brene Brown probably said it best, and I’m butchering her words, but the essence of what she said was there’s nothing we hunger to see in a speaker more than vulnerability. And there’s nothing we would rather hide from other people than our own vulnerability. And I think that the tides are changing. Ted talks have certainly helped that quite a bit, where it’s not about putting all of our dirty laundry out on display. That to me is actually about the ego, but rather it’s about being comfortable having those human moments where we’re not in full control of everything that’s coming out of us or of the situation, but we’re just letting other people see us and we’re truly seeing other people for who they are and that’s where the really great stuff happens.

Halelly: And being real. That’s a theme that’s coming up so much, this idea of authenticity and vulnerability, so thank you for sharing that. I totally agree with you and I’m seeing that too. So you are especially now spending a lot of time working with people that might be in a corporate position or maybe they’re thinking about starting their own business or maybe they’re a trainer or author, somebody who is a thought leader now or thinking about being known as a thought leader, and helping them to package their knowledge into a talk or a workshop so that it makes an impact, and it helps other people see them and discover what they have to offer. And I find that a lot of leaders, I mean, the ones that are good at it, it’s not a big deal for them. But a lot of leaders don’t really even see that as something that’s necessary, right? They just sort of go to work and do their technical expertise kind of job or manage their team or whatnot, but this idea about speaking as a way for advancement is not always even on their radar. So, why do you think that it is important for leaders to have this kind of skillset? And then what is it that you can share to help them do that? I mean, I know you have a whole program on it, and we’ll share that in the show notes, but what kind of a model or how do you teach that?

Alexia: There’s a lot embedded in there, so keep me honest if I go off on a tangent. What I want to start with first is why does it matter? Because I get asked that a lot. And I believe that when you are clear on what your expertise is, what makes you special, what you’re uniquely poised to be able to share with the world, even if you have a full-time job, it’s a win-win for you and your organization. A brief story – when I was in my late 20s, and was leading a teacher training program, I was not thinking just yet about what my next step would be. I was really concerned with the work. How do I revolutionize this program without disparaging the leaders of it before me, who hadn’t really grown it to the capacity it could be grown? There was some lack of alignment with our organization’s vision and what this program actually looked like in terms of structure. So I did a lot of stuff to renovate it, and that was juicy. I mean, I had never felt so on purpose in a workplace situation as I did at that point. And I started getting opportunities to travel, and to speak about the work that I was doing there. And while that was really fun, particularly when one of those places was St. Thomas and for the first time ever I got to go on a work trip and hang out on the beach and get paid, I couldn’t wrap my head around how that was possible. But I digress again! But it was great for our organization, because suddenly people, primarily in the country, but also on the island, were learning about this program that was becoming best in class. It also started to plant the seed of, “I love speaking on behalf of my organization and our brand and the work that we’re doing, but I may want to go off on my own at some point and do this work myself.” And because while I was still internal, and I was getting asked to speak at organizations but also starting to put together submissions to speak at conferences, it made it a lot easier to go out on my own because I was building up my own thought leadership while still holding my 9-to-5 job.

Now, in terms of folks who might be thinking, “I definitely do want to go out on my own. Might this be a conflict of interest for my organization?” And that does take a little bit of work to figure out if that is the case. Particularly for folks who might be learning development in tech. If you are speaking on behalf of someone proprietary, and I actually have a client right now who is in that situation where she wants to develop her own brand but right now she’s getting a lot of invites to speak on what her company is about, then you do have to be a little bit more intentional about when am I speaking on behalf of my organization and I’m not going to take that and do that on my own. What I can do on my own, though, is perhaps identify some particular topic that is related to my organization’s work where I could have expertise. So I’ll use the teacher training program I had as an example. It was about Shakespeare and how we were approaching Shakespeare with young people to address violence that was happening in New York City. I could then – and I did – look at the fundamentals of what, how I was teaching. So how does a coach approach enable you to be a better facilitator? That was something that was not proprietary to my organization, but it was something I could certainly address on my own when I wanted to pay my own way to speak at a conference or if an organization wanted to pay me and I was taking a leave of absence from work. So those are important considerations to make.

Gosh, there’s so much in here that I want folks to know, but I guess in terms of first steps, because it’s so easy to say, “I would love this person’s career, but I have no idea how to close the gap from where I am right now to where that person is and to where I want to be.” But, look at the industry associations that either you’re a part of or perhaps you’re not a part of but could be. We are as a country in no shortage of professional associations. Both of us published our books through Association for Talent Development. We speak and have spoken at their events, we’ve done webinars for them – it’s been a tremendous way for us to be able to reach our tribe, and build our own tribe in the process. Whether it’s local association meetings that perhaps you offer to speak at to share your expertise, or pitching to speak at a national conference or more and more professional associations now are doing webinars or having their own podcasts. Start to dip your toes in the communities you already have a natural affinity for. See where you’re getting traction, and then that can often reveal where you want to go next.

Halelly: That is great advice. And definitely you and I both are living proof that that works really well. And I can tell you, even in one of my clients, there is this woman I came across, one of my clients is using her as a speaker internally, even though it’s not her job at all, to teach people storytelling. Because they learned that she was a great storyteller and then she was able to teach that to others, and so they fly her all around the world to these different training conferences that they have – for internal folks – where she teaches that skill. But it is part of her, it’s now part of her brand. And I think it’ll be very easy for her to convey that externally, because that’s her stuff. She developed it.

Alexia: I love that story, because it goes to the heart of eventually you’re going to go out on your own and you need to develop that entrepreneurial skillset. How can you be intrepreneurial in the meantime, and is there a way to be able to leverage your growing passion to benefit your organization? One thing on this theme I just want to throw out there, because I actually do not have a current client who has done this, but it’s something that I’ll often share in webinars and trainings that I do, that if you are passionate about speaking, something to think about is actually TEDx. So Ted is the main conference that’s thousands of dollars to be able to attend, and it’s somewhat closed in terms of who gets invited to speak. But, communities across the world are able to apply for a TEDx license, to do a local event. But organizations can also apply for their own TEDx license, where it is specific to their company. And they have speakers from their company. And that can be a phenomenal way for you to get your toes into the speaking arena, whether you’re looking to just get the experience of producing an event, whether you want to curate speakers or whether you want to be one of the speakers. And it can be a tremendous way to share the institutional knowledge within your company with other folks.

Halelly: And not only do you get your name out there and get your brand out there, but it is an amazing way to then meet people with that brand behind you, and so it’s a networking opportunity, which of course creates tons of career opportunities. And by the way, Alexia is walking the talk because she is the co-host of Las Vegas’s TEDx Women event, right?

Alexia: Yes.

Halelly: So you have done this, and of course that’s something that you teach people in your programs.

Alexia: Yes. I do the communitywide event. But, I wish sometimes I could have time traveled back and in my organization created a TEDx specific for our company, because what a phenomenal thing for an organization to, A, Be able to say that they have, a way to be able to position their own thought leaders for others to potentially have them come speak, but it also becomes a great recruitment tool, engagement … I just think it’s a win-win, and the costs are nominal if you have your in-house resources to produce a TEDx event. So for anyone who is listening who thinks, “Gosh, this might be something really fun to do at our organization,” if you use the old Google or any search engine of your choosing and you put in TEDx company license, you’ll find all of the info you need.

Halelly: Very cool idea. I love it. Well, I want to make sure that I honor our time commitments, so there are three more questions that I want to ask you. So we’ll keep them brief. First, you’re doing so much – what is really exciting you now? What’s new for you?

Alexia: I’m incredibly excited about the program you mentioned a little bit earlier, your Spotlight Workshop that is launching right now. Because it is the first time in a virtual format I’ve created an experience where people, whether they are trainers or they’re just looking to be able to develop trainings, can learn equally – because it takes both – the facilitation know how, to be able to lead workshops that are high impact, that are transformational for participants, alongside how to make them profitable. So that not only do you not go into debt, not only do you just break even, but rather how do you actually learn how to realistically create revenue, both in terms of people who enroll in your workshop? We cover how to potentially get sponsors if that’s a revenue stream you’re interested in, as well as how can workshops or trainings potentially be a feeder for you if you want folks as coaching and consulting clients? So that I’m very excited about. Because it’s an opportunity for me to bring together my passion, what my career has looked like, for an audience, for my growing audience that’s equally comprised of corporate folks, entrepreneurs, I’ve got a lot of academics who want to figure out how do they take their careers from the ivory tower and bring it into the community, all of the resources needed to make that happen.

Halelly: Very cool. And look at the show notes for this podcast and you will see a link to really cool free videos that Alexia has out that will help you learn already tons of skills about this, but also get exposed to what’s coming down the pike in her program.

Alexia: Yes, and if you do the video training I would love to hear from you, what are you excited and taking action on? Because I can’t tell you how many people who go through some of my pre-video training wind up finding their fellow participants or their collaborators just within the community of other people who are going through that process.

Halelly: Yeah, totally. And I think that’s one of the best things about being in a program like that is that you have like-minded other people around you to help provide with peer accountability, peer support and potential collaboration. So, I always like to ask my guests for one specific action that listeners can take today, this week, to upgrade their leadership and communication skills. What’s one thing that you suggest our listeners do to ratchet up their leadership or communication skills?

Alexia: I feel like you’ve just asked me to pick my favorite dessert! Which is so hard, because there’s so many of them. One tip to take action on … and it’s a simple one. But I find that so often, we start talking without knowing where we’re headed. And one of the greatest shifts I’ve made in my communication, whether it’s in a negotiation, whether it’s a pitch or whether it’s a speech – a keynote or a training – is to begin with the end in mind. To ask not where do I want to be by the end, but where do I want my audience to be by the end of this? And again, that could be where do I want my audience of when I’m giving a keynote to be, but that could also be if I’m talking to my husband, where do I want him to be by the end of this conversation? And from that destination to then work backwards. What are the two, three, four, upwards of five key things I need to communicate in order to make that happen? Then, to work further backwards towards the beginning. What are the questions I need to ask in order to find out what’s really going on for my audience? To enable them to speak what’s on their mind? And then ultimately, how do I bring myself to this conversation or to this presentation or to this training in a way that allows me to be credible, but also to be honest and to engage my audience? And by asking that series of questions, by beginning with the end in mind and working back to the beginning, what you’ve identified is, “I know exactly where I’m going to go now. I can fill in the gaps.” And I will ask myself that, truly, if I’m about to just go into a high stakes conversation – I have 30 seconds to prep for – and of course I will also use it if I am writing a proposal for an article, for a book or if I’m about to give a presentation. And that has really changed everything. It helps me weed out the stuff I don’t need and stay focused on my audience.

Halelly: I love that. Fabulous advice. Start with the end in mind, figure out what are the things you must cover in order to get there, ask yourself questions about what you need to know about your audience, and then you basically create the path.

Alexia: Yup.

Halelly: I love it. So, Alexia, it’s been a great pleasure speaking with you and sharing you with my listeners and I’m really glad that people get a chance now to learn from you, and I hope that they will go check out your free videos. How can people stay in touch with you and learn more about you and all of whatever you just are about to say, I’m going to put that in the show notes.

Alexia: If one saying is resonating in any way and you want to continue the conversation, the easiest way to find me is on my primary website, www.AlexiaVernon.com. I have a newsletter that goes out every couple of weeks with actionable communication and leadership tips which you can sign up for over there. And then on all social media I’ve tried to keep it really simple – I’m Alexia Vernon – so you can find me on Facebook as Alexia Vernon, you can find me on Twitter as Alexia Vernon, LinkedIn, and even now I’m on Periscope. We were just talking about that before we hit record, so for anybody who is on that platform and wants quick, little fun videos with actionable speaking strategies, follow me there as well.

Halelly: That is great. So thank you so much. Listeners, I hope you take Alexia up on her offer and that you take the action necessary to begin with the end in mind for all of your upcoming communications. Alexia, thank you and good luck with the program and I’ll talk to you soon.

Alexia: Sounds good.

Halelly: Take care.

Thank you for tuning into this episode. I hope you enjoyed it, and please don’t forget – take action! That’s the only way that you can actually improve your skills. You have to take action. So, check out the show notes, look at all the links, including the one to Alexia’s free videos, which are released last week and this week, and there is a third one coming. So go to the show notes at www.talentgrow.com/podcast/episode10. And don’t forget to leave me a comment about what you thought about this episode, and what you want to hear about in future episodes and any other feedback that you can give me. Because I’m here to serve you and if I don’t know how this is working for you, I can’t be sure to make it perfect – perfect for you, that is. So let me know, keep in touch, and thanks again for tuning in. I really appreciate your attention. Make today great.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the TalentGrow Show, where we help you develop your talent to become the kind of leader that people want to follow. For more information, visit TalentGrow.com.

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