#12 – #NoMoreBadZoom with Robbie Samuels
Robbie Samuels is a TEDx speaker, keynote speaker, and relationship-based business strategy coach. The Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Lifehacker, and Ascend recognize him as a business networking expert. Robbie is the host of the On the Schmooze podcast and the #NoMoreBadZoom Virtual Happy Hour. As a Virtual Design Event Consultant and Executive Zoom Producer, he helps organizations bring in-person events strategically online. He also runs a program for presenters to become certified virtual event professionals.
Today, Robbie joins me to discuss his work before the pandemic, where he helped people make the most of their events. He shares how some of those effective strategies from in-person events can work now in the online age of Zoom and how the pandemic is changing the way we focus meetings. He explains how the online nature of today’s business world has removed some of the constraints of in-person events and why it’s crucial to examine the goal of an exercise. He also shares the tools you can use in Zoom to facilitate interaction and create a better experience online and how and why he started his program to help people become better online presenters.
“Once we get comfortable with the technology, the technology actually supports us doing our work.” – Robbie Samuels
“Online facilitation is a technique. In-person, there are certain things that are sort of assumed.” – Robbie Samuels
“Everybody should host something on a regular basis, and that will help them get better in their hosting, better at the speaking, and they’ll create something for other people, which has been a great way to identify new prospects.” – Robbie Samuels
This week on Hypnotic Language Hacks:
- The work Robbie was doing pre-pandemic to help people and businesses make the most of events
- How some lessons from in-person events are carrying over into the new age of online meetings
- How the pandemic has helped to re-examine the purpose of each meeting
- How moving online has removed some of the constraints that come from in-person events and logistics
- Why a defined goal of an exercise is more important now that we are moving to online interaction
- Tools within Zoom you can use to encourage interaction
- Advantages of moving online and the new opportunities it presents
- How the strategy is more important than the platform
- The difference between being cinematic and theatrical
- How Robbie designs and produces his online events to keep people engaged
- What skills we can use as the speaker to change up the delivery and mode
- he settings you need to enable in Zoom for effective use of the tool
- Why having a checklist for each session is essential
- The possible long-term effects and next phase in business events after the pandemic
- How Robbie’s Zoom program started and what it covers
- The turning point for Robbie that made him want to create his new offering in his business
- The 5% Advantage Program
- Croissants Vs. Bagels: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences
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Read the Session Transcript
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#12 - #NoMoreBadZoom with Robbie Samuels
– [Robbie] And I think what happened was when we were forced to all bring our content online in a very, very different way, because back then there were online events. There were mostly webinars let’s say, but people’s understanding of what a webinar was and what its purpose was, was pretty basic. Like, we weren’t asking a lot of that and it was sort of bonus content. So even though the format wasn’t great, we weren’t asking more of it because we still had events to go to. And now, we had an opportunity to really reexamine what was the purpose of this gathering? Honestly, do we even need to have this gathering, should be always the question that gets asked.
– [Jason] You know your business can change people’s lives, but you don’t yet have the right words to inspire them to take action. Imagine the changes you will create in your business as you tap into the secrets of ethical influence and positive persuasion to not only better serve your clients, but also to supercharge your financial freedom.
I’m your host, Jason Linnet, and welcome to the Hypnotic Language Hacks podcast. I help entrepreneurs and business owners just like you to close more premium sales. And no, this isn’t about tricking or manipulating people. Not at all. It’s about helping your prospects to appropriately sell themselves into your products or services. Please hit Subscribe and get all the episodes now at jasonlinett.com. Before we get started, please take a moment and think about the nature of your business, which is a very logical thing to ask you this as a business podcast. But think about this for a moment. What if overnight, literally in the blink of an eye, everything changed? The nature of what was mostly driving your income suddenly became obsolete, and you couldn’t do what you were doing before. Suddenly, the sources of income, the events you had booked, suddenly were stopped and canceled, and the world was suddenly a very different place.
Some of you are ahead of me as to where I’m going here, because this is not a hypothetical. Because earlier in the year 2020, there were rumblings of stories in the news about other countries and health risks and other territories, and then suddenly, at least for us here in the United States, here was that morning in March, where the kids were sent home from school early. And here in Virginia, they have yet to go back. And so many aspects of people’s businesses dramatically had to change. And this is where my internal dialogue throughout an entire global pandemic was that the people who keep to try to do the same thing and try to play the game of ignoring it, those are the ones that unfortunately met with the demise of their business when things began to fall apart. The people who, as my amazing guest on the program says here today, who show up for their audience, listens to what their needs are, and realize, “We’ve got to pivot. We’ve got to provide a better service for them because there’s a specific need that
they have and my task now is to help them solve it even faster.” So in the midst of a global pandemic, here I was launching a brand-new podcast. This is Episode number 12 of Hypnotic Language Hacks, which all the references and the show notes we’re going to make here, head over to jasonlinett.com. One N, two Ts. Don’t put any extra letters at the end, L-I-N-E-T-T, jasonlinett.com. Can you tell I’ve spelled that enough in my life. jasonlinett.com/12. That’s where you can find all the references, because I’ll tell you, as I started to map out who I wanted to invite as guests on this new program, Robbie Samuels was at the top of my list. Here’s the backstory. I was on Robbie’s podcast On The Schmooze with Robbie Samuels, talking about networking, talking about hypnotic communication, as I do. That episode was on his program back to Episode number 132, we’ll link in the show notes. And I thought of him because I was impressed by our conversation,
so I went off and read his book, Bagels Versus Croissants. Forgive me if I’m butchering the title, but that’s the idea of it. It’s a whole metaphor. It’s a metaphor about effective networking. And I didn’t just read it because I wanted to be friendly and I was on his podcast. No, I read it because I went, the abilities we have to create dynamic relationships with other people. That’s part of what I do. And if I can, as Robbie says, get 5% better each and every time I do something, that’s going to be a benefit to me. That’s going to be a benefit to others as well. So as I started to plan this project out, here’s the stalker moment. Sorry. I started to make sure I was following him on Facebook, following him on LinkedIn, just to go, “What’s he going to do? Where’s this going to go?” And man, did he deliver. And actually, in the private Facebook group that I run, it’s actually a public community that’s private on Facebook, The Business Influence and Persuasion Group, linked in the show notes, please join us. We have fun there.
I asked the group, I’ve got someone coming on who is an expert at online events. Do you want to Zoom a better “What are your needs?” One of the more popular questions is where do I look? Robbie’s going to tell you in today’s episode. But more importantly, how do we facilitate interaction? How can we actually provide a better-quality experience online? So how do we stop asking the question of what can’t we do, and instead, Robbie delivers the content here in terms of what you can do even better and strategies I know you’re going to put to use. So here’s more on Robbie. Robbie Samuels is a keynote speaker, TEDx speaker, and relationship-based business strategy coach, who has been recognized as a networking expert by Forbes Incorporated, and as an industry expert in the field of digital event design by JDC events. You’re going to hear all about that in this conversation. As a virtual event design consultant and executive Zoom producer, I love that because those are titles that didn’t exist five years ago.
But now that you heard, virtual design event consultant and executive Zoom producer, many of you are now realizing, “Oh, I need that,” because you do. As that executive Zoom producer, he assists organizations with bringing their in-person events strategically online. In fact, he runs a four-week program, we’re going to link to that in the show notes, a four-week program for presenters to become certified virtual event professionals. There is an absolute need for that. He hosts and you ought to subscribe to the, On the Schmooze podcast, and he also hosts a weekly #NoMoreBadZoom Virtual Happy Hour. I had high hopes for having Robbie on the program. He over-delivered, so you are in for a treat. Here we go. Episode number 12 with Robbie Samuels. Before we get started today, if you want to easily grab people’s attention, naturally build authority, and organically have your prospects wanting take more from you even before you make an offer,
I’ve created a step-by-step strategy to help you to do just that. I call it The Video Influence System. This is your opportunity now to discover my highly-effective, entirely free, on-demand workshop at jasonlinett.com. It’s specifically for entrepreneurs who want to deliver premium value to their clients to receive premium value in return. If you want a proven framework to boost your confidence and deliver value every time you go on camera, get the video influence system now at jasonlinett.com. All right, so we’re here with Robbie Samuels. And I got to know Robbie last year when I was on his podcast, which I’m sure we’ll talk about later, On the Schmooze. It was a cool moment where I looked him up and I read his book and found it really to be impressive. And part of the reason why I wanted to have Robbie on this week is the fact that the themes of his book I really liked, but then suddenly when the world became a
very different place in 2020, immediately, the thought was there to go, “I got to get an update.” So, Robbie, good to have you here.
– Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.
– Yeah. And we did a quick bio in the intro, but could you introduce yourself to the audience in terms of who you are and what do you do?
– Well, I’m a virtual event design consultant and executive Zoom producer. And none of that was true prior to March 2020. – I was about to say those are titles that probably didn’t exist 10 years ago.
– No. So prior to that, I was best known as a networking expert. I’d written a book and host a podcast on the topic, did a TEDx. So that was the world I was coming from, and now it’s all about the same message. Events are about content and connection, but the medium has changed. We’re no longer talking about in-person events, we’re talking about online experiences, and so now I help my clients out in a variety of ways in that format.
– Yeah. So let’s rewind back into the before times, because clearly,
talking about pastries and talking about bread products is the obvious thing we should be discussing when we’re talking about networking. There’s a setup. Could you introduce those concepts that you taught?
– The title of the book is called, Croissants Vs.
Bagels: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences. And the title is referring to this concept that I had spoken about for over a decade in my talks that I had done all round. And, you know, if you go to a networking event, picture a moment back when you used to actually go to events, it’s bewildering that that’s not true these days, but we used to walk in a room and we’d see people in these tight little clusters. Those are the bagels. Those shoulder to shoulder huddles that are impossible to break into. But if one person in that space shifts their body language and makes space for others to join, that’s the croissant. So it was both a literal act that people can do, but it was also a metaphor for how we should be in these spaces. We should be open to new connections.
There was a study by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events that said that 76% of the people surveyed said that networking was a top driver for why they chose to attend an event. And we would probably agree with that. Like, yeah, okay so three-quarters of the people are going to events with the intention to network. That sounds right, except in reality, we know that it’s not, like, 75% of the people at the event are actually, you know, following through on those intentions. And so the work that I was doing pre-pandemic was helping organizations design more engaging events, and in particular, helping participants make the most of those opportunities. Which is why I wrote the book and then last year in 2019, I did a TEDx on the topic and why I’ve been hosting this podcast for 4 plus years. So it was like if you go out of your house, if you make the effort, you know, to get on a plane, I feel like I want to say a moment of silence for that too. Yes. Okay. Back when we could go on planes and, you know, it wasn’t just about the content. It was also about the amazing possibilities of the connection.
And in this new reality, we need that to still be true. But as you might imagine, March 9th and March 11th, I started seeing my new reality and things were shifting rapidly.
– Yeah. You came to mind as somebody who I was thinking, this is someone who clearly, yes, you had a digital audience with the podcast, yes, you already had a following with what you do, yet the messaging clearly had to change though. I can go back to last year, and I think it was January or February timeframe when I was on your program when I read your book too. And that was the year that I went to several business conferences, several other events inside of my communities, too. And the takeaway was this fact that so much of our language in terms of networking is about what’s your elevator speech? How do you become memorable? And that reality is…we would talk about active listening. You’ve got two ears and one mouth. Sometimes it should be proportionate, but that reality that it was also the
responsibility of the pro networker to welcome in the sort of amateur networker, because you don’t know the connections that could be had. You don’t know if that’s the person who’s got the next big possible opportunity that either they can make use of you, or you can make use of them. So I would notice here were those bagels, the clusters that nobody could break into, and here was that demeanor where there was an openness to this, which brings us around to today where now most everything has moved, well, everything has moved online. So are there traces of that, that now carry over?
– Well, I think the piece about intentionality really carries over. Back when we did events and we didn’t have to clarify that they were in person, we just said the word events. We all knew what we were talking about.
– Yeah. When we had to convince people that it’s going to be online and that’s also viable.
– Yeah. So the events piece was always supposed to be built around like a clear objective or
clear purpose, but we also know that often annual events, you stop having that clarity, and it becomes a little bit of what we’ve always done with maybe a minor tweak. And I think what happened was when we were forced to all, you know, bring our content online in a very, very different way, because back then, there were online events, there were mostly webinars let’s say, but people’s understanding of what a webinar was and what its purpose was, was pretty basic. Like we weren’t asking a lot of that and it was sort of bonus content. And so, even though the format wasn’t great, we weren’t asking more of it because we still had events to go to. And now we had an opportunity to really re-examine what was the purpose of this gathering. Honestly, do we even need to have this gathering? Should be always the question that gets asked. And then given the purpose, given the objectives, the primary,
the secondary, the tertiary objectives for this, what digital tools and what even analog tools? So I know we’re both on video and audio, so I’m holding up some cards that have hearts and thumbs up and smiley faces. And so there are analog ways that we can bring an event from, like, a webinar feeling to a truly online experience. And I think there was a missed opportunity for a lot of folks because they panicked and they brought their content online, and they tried to replicate what they did in person. And replication doesn’t really work in a lot of instances and online shouldn’t carry over the restrictions that were in place in person. So in person, we met for 3 days in a row, in one location, with 22 concurrent sessions. That was a constraint of in-person. And when we move online, we should not be constrained to 3 days, 22 concurrent sessions.
We should reimagine all of that. So I think there were people who were trying to just literally pick up what they did and just throw it on Zoom. And I’m, like, coming at it very differently. So my background is I organize events. So I spent 15 years organizing events in the non-profit, 10 of those years, I ran 25 events a year for a non-profit. I was raising $1 million a year for them. And in addition, I was running 24 events a year for a meetup group that I founded that ran for 11 years. And then there was a couple of conferences each year that I ran for fun, and my wedding, only one. And no golf outings. That’s in my life contract. No golf outings. So I had a really strong understanding of events and logistics. I understood events from participant experience because I had been thinking about that for a long time as a person teaching networking for them, and I like tech enough to get into the weeds. And I like teaching tech. My wife and I, before we even started dating, were running a productivity tech
tips seminar in person twice a year. We did that several years in a row. And, you know, it was a mixture of, like, you know, Google tools and other sort of Ops and stuff that people could use to kind of be more productive in their business and their life. So I like that kind of stuff. So in some ways, looking back, this seems like the perfect kind of confluence of identity, experience, and interest that landed me here in this moment. And it’s rare because I both like the background behind the scenes stuff of pushing the buttons and understanding how the technology works, and I’m an MC and I’m a professional speaker. And I’m really fine with, you know, with the improv. And it’s just a really rare combination that I found a home and it’s been an incredible, incredible year. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been an incredible year.
– Well, I love that mindset of being the producer, the person, the wizard behind the curtain, as well as the actual wizard at the same time. And I want to go back to what you had mentioned in terms of goals.
This is a program called Hypnotic Language Hacks. How very often it’s the specificity of our words, when we change our messaging, we create better impact, we become more memorable. So you’ve mentioned about the importance of defining the purpose of the event. Is there a story that comes to mind of an event where the purpose wasn’t quite defined and then what happened by then defining that?
– Well, I’ll give you an example. Sometimes it happens at a more granular level. I was working with someone who, at their in-person events, there was a moment in the script where, from the stage, they would ask a series of questions that would get audience members to stand up. And then, you know, he’d go to the next question, he’d get them to stand up. And so we were about to move this online, but that wouldn’t work. I mean, you could try it, but A, people aren’t ready to stand up. They’re not necessarily dressed from the waist down the way that they want to be showing off. – I have it on record right now, but go on.
– Yeah. Yeah.
And also, would it lead to the same feeling or the same outcome that you’re hoping for, like, what was the purpose of that activity, of that exercise in person? It wasn’t to make them stand, right. So we get lost sometimes with the implementation as it was, as opposed to how it could be. So it was to help people see that they weren’t alone. So one of the questions was who here took more than one plane to get here? And so people would stand up and they would find each other. Like, it was sort of a moment of like, “Oh, we are an international crowd. Like, we are a global community. Oh, look, I’m not the only one who took a long time to get here.” And so that’s a good example of a great question that elicits a, “Oh, I’m not the only one I look around.” So it’s not that you want people to stand up and look at their screen and look at everyone else’s navel. That’s not the same feeling. Now that same organization sent out a welcome box. And the welcome box was actually an envelope that had pre-wrapped things
inside that said don’t open until. It was very cleverly done. But the envelope itself was blue, so what we did was people would pick up their little blue envelope and they were told to pick it up and then peek over it. And so when they asked a question, they all picked up their little blue envelope and peeked over it, and they could see all the other blue envelopes that went up on the screen. So that’s an example of, you know, not replicating exactly what happened, but remembering what was the purpose of that exercise. And then now given all the, this is why I always say digital and analog tools, what can we do to replicate that feeling, but doing it by re-imagining the actual steps to doing it? And so I think that’s me as an example of not rushing forward with the exact same script, but kind of going through piece by piece. And another example is that built in to Zoom is like a yes, no option. And I’ve had people submit questions to me for a poll because I’m always encouraging speakers, like, “Go ahead and use a poll, use a poll.”
And they submit a question. And I’m like, “The only way to answer this question is yes or no.” They’re like, “Uh-huh, that’s the poll.” I’m like… So that’s not a poll. A poll will have three or more options. Maybe two, but they’re not yes, no. And there’s a yes, no option that I’ve enabled, it’s the nonverbal feedback. It’s the bottom of the participant thing. And so I walk them through that and they’re like, “Oh, I can think of three other ways to use that now.” And I’m like, right. So instead of just saying to people, “In chat, write yes. In chat, write yes.” Which is a common webinar tactic, what if instead people could go and they mark Yes, and you can say, “Wow, it looks like two-thirds of the audience, like, by a glance, I can see two-thirds of you feel XYZ,” and then it’s not a poll, but it is still a point of engagement. So that’s the goal. I mean, honestly, when it comes down to it, the goal is engagement. 45 minutes of Death by PowerPoint, followed by ineffectual Q &A and no one monitoring chat was probably never a good format.
And now when we’re craving connection, we really got to steer away from that and aim for opportunities for people to talk to the speaker and talk to each other. And I still talk to some companies who they want to hear my advice, but then they’re like, “Well, we’re planning on just doing this webinar, using a webinar platform, and you know, no one can speak and were actually going to turn off chat and have submitted questions in advance.” I’m like, why not just play a recording? Like, why are people having to show up at that time? Like, honestly, you could prerecord that entire thing and have it on on-demand content. But if they’re going to show up at one moment, then it’s a missed opportunity. That’s a legacy organization. Not really able to be nimble enough to think about how to do it today.
– For years, I’ve always said that, you know, there was a time I was at a conference and I was presenting a workshop on Facebook marketing.
And everywhere from the hallways to the restaurant, even in the men’s restroom, people were coming up and going, “Why are you presenting on that? That doesn’t work.” And they’re going, Sunday at 3:00 is when I’m giving the presentation. It’s what it really drilled in home that it’s very rarely the platform, it’s almost always the strategy. So we get caught up in the thing. We get caught up in the tech of going, “Well, how do I make this work?” And the answer is, especially in this year where we’ve had to become much more flexible, how do we do that differently? I thought of you back in April, used to be active in a BNI, Business Networking International Group. And suddenly here’s one of the local chapters that announced, “Oh, we’re just going to move the meeting online.” And other groups were the ones, which this is kind of where we were back in April going, “Okay, let’s just take a month or two off and come back in July.” Yeah. About that. And the amazing result was that I could remember back to being a member
of that group. I was there as a guest. I wasn’t a member anymore at this point, but I could remember being there as a member. And there’s the person who’s, you know, off on their phone catching up on something. Here’s the person who’s very clearly not really at the meeting, even though physically they’re in the same space. I saw an amazing benefit kick in when suddenly everyone was framed on camera with the camera on and they were on the entire time. So what I’m getting at is have you seen any specific advantages that we can now do that it’s not the game of what can’t we do online, but instead, what can we do even better? – I’m so glad you asked that because I do think we’re often framing this in the what’s missing. And I think there’s a whole host of new possibility. And also, I’m now working with a BNI chapter in Massachusetts running a monthly social for them. So they’ve figured out how to do their monthly online event, but they wanted to still have a way for the members to just have social.
So I’m running a series of breakout rooms with some fun questions and just kind of emceeing this, like, hour-long program to get people to get to know each other beyond the business pitch. Because they know the business pitch. That’s what BNI is, but they know the people a little bit better because, before our meeting, there was a little more rubbing of shoulders, right? And shaking of hands and hugs and all that. And so there’s not as much of that unless people are super thoughtful about how they’re designing their meetings. There’s not as much of that. So they wanted to have an entirely separate event. So in some ways that’s a new possibility, is that you can have events that are purely social if you feel like that is a benefit to your organization. But I’ll give you another one. In-person, people tend to, you know, they have their intention about who they want, you know, “I’m here to meet people,” and then, in reality, they go and they hang out with people they already know, or they hang off to the side, or they go back to their room. And so, a good number of people don’t get to actualize that.
And so they rarely meet new people for anything more than a cursory, like, standing next to them for a buffet line, maybe. But in this new space, if you go to an event that attracts the kind of people you want to meet and they use breakout rooms and they ask a thoughtful question and they give you the right amount of time with the right number of people, which is a lot of ifs, I will say. Because someone asked me about best practices for breakout rooms and I realized I have six. And they’re all details. Like, six with specific subsets underneath each one. Like, I have a lot of thoughts about that. But when it’s done thoughtfully, you’re now in a room with other people that you probably wouldn’t meet. I run employee engagement programs for this nonprofit health organization in New York. They’ve got 35,000 members…and, I’m sorry, 13,000 staff members. They have 13,000 staff members and 3,500 of them are going to go through this virtual cafe over a few months period. And so we’re holding these events and people are coming to them and we’re doing
two breakout rooms plus an update from, you know, the CEO and the VPs and all that. And what’s great is in person, all the people of the same title would hang out together. And of course, there was supposed to be mingling, but people flock, right? Here, the feeling was…
– They make the announcement of, “Please sit next to people you don’t know,” and they still gather in clusters.
– Yeah. So this is like a way of interrupting that without having to be heavy-handed about it because it’s just is you’re thrown into a diverse, mixed group of people with a topic. And the question that we’d start each one with, and I’ve used this a lot for my other clients as well is share a story about your name. It could be about your first name, your last name, your nickname. Does it have a meaning? Were you named after someone, like, and then I share my own story to get people to think about theirs, right? Because, like, stories beget stories. So when I tell my story, then you think of your own answer, and then I give them a little like, right, you know, “As we go into breakout rooms,
you’re going to have this many minutes. The person who goes first has their birthday closest today, going forward. And if your birthday was yesterday, your gift is you don’t get to go first.”
– Otherwise, it’s five minutes later and they’re going, “Do you want to go first or should I?”
– So that’s what I mean by best practices. Like, you know, how do you have the right frame of a question, the right number of people, the right number of minutes, who goes first, the timekeeping aspect of it, and then have them come back and debrief by having people nominate… And this is something else you wouldn’t do in person, “Hey, nominate someone who had a really good story in your group and let’s see if we can get them to unmute and share.” And so having a debrief where, you know, three or four people share always adds such levity to the conversation. So it was a funny story. People are going, “But now that you know that about me, you can’t use that name. Okay?” That guy’s like, “Well, it was called this as a kid, but you’re not allowed to say that.” But a lot of levity, and it’s often people who are senior who
often get to say, but also people get nominated who no one’s heard of know nor heard from. So it adds some diversity in that respect. It’s just, I don’t know, these are sort of creative things… I guess another example is that in person, it would be a time suck to have people get into groups of three, discuss, debrief, and then get into a second group of three. Because inevitably, the people who are not in a group of three are nowhere near each other in the room.
– And you’re right, yeah, on Zoom, you hit a button and suddenly they’re in a different room.
– You recreate and it’s this… So I think once we get comfortable with the technology, the technology actually supports us doing our work, and it fades. The problem is that when people aren’t comfortable with technology, the technology is a hindrance to barrier. And so, I have this idea of us, you know, every time you host or speak online, you get 5% better. And if that is the way we sort of get into this, if that’s our goal, like just keep aiming to be 5% better, and that will definitely help the long run.
– Which, I mean, everything is cumulative.
The more you do something, the better you get at it. And to look at this is a skill, this is something that you look at, you know, sort of experiences where here’s the kid, here’s the parent, there’s the grandparent, the very first client that booked with me as all of this began. She fills out the form, and all I did was I’ve been seeing people in person as well as online. And I just simply added in for the phone consult, “Oh, let’s just warm up the Zoom aspect that in my schedule application, how would you like to connect for the call, phone call or Zoom?” So I was offering Zoom for the consult for the first time when that was already an option of online or in person. The first person who filled out that form wrote on there that, “I’m looking for hypnotherapy. I’m looking to quit smoking on my 84th birthday.” And of course, my first thought was, again, back in March, “I’m going to have to tell this person July.” Which as soon as we got on the call, and this is the point to never assume, she goes, “Oh, I hope you use Zoom.
I use that to talk to my grandkids because I can save the videos. I can’t do that with FaceTime.” I’m like, she had a better tech setup than I did. I’ve heard you mentioned the theme of the difference between, and I love this type of thing. I talk about strategy versus platform. Talking about the difference between show and tell. Can you elaborate on the difference between being cinematic and theatrical?
– This concept came from an article in “Fast Company” by the global events manager for Microsoft. And he talks about how in-person events are, you know, big and theatrical. And you can kind of imagine someone striding across the stage and striding back across the stage and all those things. And that won’t work in this format, but instead what we’re doing is cinematic. And I’ve heard a lot of professional speakers that are friends of mine repeat that, you know, we’re competing with television right now, if you’re getting to that level of production value.
It’s about televisions. So the other piece of this that I got was I got interviewed by a neuroscientist for a book that she was writing. And we started talking about how every seven minutes, we need a state change in order to keep focused. And so when we’re designing our online conversations, like, even right now, we’ve been talking for quite a while, so it’s subtle, but I am trying to make sure my hand goes above the fold. Right? I’m not moving a lot because I have a microphone. So it’s just like change of pitch. So when I’m doing an event though, I will design in, you know, a poll or a chat, answering a chat question, or I call people’s names a lot, even, by the way, I’ve done that when I’m doing a webinar and I can’t see people, but I have their list of participants in the audience and I’ll be like, “Oh, it looks like Bob’s called in and Mary’s here and Jane’s here.” And, you know, it’s funny how it’s just, like, people listening in are like, “Oh, wait, are they going to say my name? So if people give me a slight chuckle, or like maybe they just smile a little bit
at one of my bad dad jokes, I’ll, like, say, “Oh, Mary totally gets it.” And then Mary smiles bigger. And in four minutes, Mary is going to guffaw at my next joke. And now I’ve got so much more energy in the room, which, by the way, feeds me. So I just did a plea in one of my…I’ve been sending out three times a week a short video message about Zoom. And I wrote one asking where to spins to turn on their camera. Because if you all turn off your camera, then I have no one to engage with, and you want me to be an engaged speaker. So how can I be an engaged speaker when I have no one to engage with? So I think we all have a part to play in co-producing the experience. But yeah, I think, like designing, so now the strategy is to really design those seven minutes or so sort of like state shifts, really. Music can play a role in that, I use music also as social etiquette to kind of teach people some social cues. Polls, the improv piece is so big for me and how I sort of…I have a structure,
but I also…I’m okay with the fact that life is live. This is live TV folks. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. Especially if you bring in pets or animals, but…pets or animals? Pets or children. – I’m with you.
– That makes more sense. Case in point, when I’m with my children, my children are not animals. Okay.
– What I love about that is that made me flash to something that I had a revelation of earlier, this year that I had a new designer create some new logos for me. And they took JL, Jason Linett, and they created it like a maze. And it’s all one line. And as soon as I saw it, I thought of, I was at the Traffic and Conversion Summit in 2014 in San Diego. And I forget the speaker, but I remember the moment, she walked out and there was the name just giant behind her. And that was the image in my head when I saw this maze logo that we now use, which then you’re the little box in the corner when you’re sharing your screen.
So exactly what you just said. I like your version of it. When I tell that story, I talk about Willie Nelson like you do. My mother has been a lifelong fan of his. We’re at his concert, and I was there for her, but the man puts on a show, three hours, the band takes two breaks, he never left the stage. And suddenly, on the road again, they’re all on their feet, everybody’s in it. But then suddenly, it turns into a comedy act because he does, “To All the Girls I Loved Before,” but then he’s doing Julio Iglesias’s voice, and everyone’s laughing. Then everyone turns to the children because he follows up with “Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet movie. And this is always that lesson in my head about how he painted with texture. How it wasn’t every song sounded the exact same. Because I won’t say what the band was, but their name rhymes with The Offspring. Later that month I was at one of their concerts and I liked some of their music,
but every song sounded the same to the point I went to the bathroom at one point and came back and I’m thinking, “This is a really long song.” No offense to them. It’s that ability to paint with texture and to think about that, again, when we’re now talking to a tiny lens across the room and we’re broadcasting around the world. So what are some of those other ingredients? What are some of other skills that we can use? Let’s say we’ve talked about the engagement of everyone who’s there, but when we’re as the speaker, what is it that we can begin to do differently in addition to changing up that delivery, changing up that mode. – I want to tell one particular thing and then I have a little story to share. The one particular thing is the look at the camera. And you know, this is a video as well as an audio show. And if I were looking down at you or me the whole time, this would be a lot less engaging. Me looking down does not work.
And I’ve seen people take selfie videos that they post on social. They’re super excited to share some news and the whole time they’re looking at their own face and they’re not looking at the camera. And there’s just this huge disconnect. So that’s, like, a really big piece, but that’s an example of just, like, being really understanding and being clear of the techniques. A lot of people…
– Right there. I think I hinted at this before in my private or it’s a public group, the business influence and persuasion group on Facebook. I did a poll with them hinting that you were going to be on this program, and the most common question was where do I look? I did a webinar with a friend of mine to help him promote a training years ago. And I wish I saved the chat log because we’re there, we’re two-headed like you and I are on the replay of this on YouTube and the audio goes everywhere as a podcast. I wish I’d saved the chat log because he’s an amazing presenter. He’s been on stages all around the world. And I am trying him on Facebook, I’m trying his phone, I’m emailing him.
He’s just speaking. And the whole time I’m going, “Please look at the camera. You look insane. Please look at the camera.” The whole time.
– That is such a big, big thing. In fact, even when I do one-on-one calls with colleagues or clients, I help correct that. In fact, when you and I got on, you said, “Well, you’re actually over here, but I know where my camera is.” And I said, “Is there any way to put that together?” You know, and you’re using an external camera, so you can’t, but you knew where you were supposed to look. What I mean is when people don’t do that, and they ended up looking to their side the whole time. So that’s just being aware of that. But on a, you know, I was about to say, honestly. Everything’s honestly. If I gave you an award-winning French cookbook and I said, you’ll make the most amazing, amazing French cuisine if you just follow the steps in this book. And you got super excited because this is something you’ve always wanted to do. And you go and you buy all kinds of fancy new pots and pans, and a new set of knives, and you get the book, and you open the book and you go,
“I don’t have any of these ingredients. Wait, I don’t know that I’m actually that comfortable sharp knives. And I don’t always measure things correctly.” So your enthusiasm is far outweighed by your feeling of incompetence. And so now your enthusiasm starts to wane. And in this context, the settings of whatever tool you’re using, so I’m most familiar with Zoom meetings, but your settings are your ingredients. So I have a document that is not even an email opt-in. It’s just a document I give away for free, meaning don’t have to give me anything in return. It’s at robbiesamuels.com/zoomsettings because I want you to know all the settings you need to enable or disable, because if you don’t have that setup, you can’t do breakout rooms. In fact, I didn’t know until March 20th that I had breakout rooms. Well, sometime that week, I figured it out. March 20th was the first time I remember doing them. So I’ve been using Zoom for four years, but I’d never known that I had access to this really great tool.
And a lot of us discovered in the early months that that was true. And there might still be people today who didn’t enable that, don’t know they have a whiteboard, never set up a poll, like, don’t know how to make a co-host because they don’t have an enabled co-host, haven’t enabled nonverbal feedback so they don’t have the yes, no feature, etc., etc. And so that’s the first thing you got to do. You got to get the ingredients, and then online facilitation is a technique. In person, there are certain things that are sort of assumed. So for instance, if we were doing introductions at an in-person setting and we had 20 people in the room and we were going to go around and say hello to each other, it would be pretty obvious who the next person to go would be. We’d either be all in lines, in rows, or it’d be in a circle. And it was just no question. Here, I have to tell you who goes next and what most facilitators will say, or like the person organizing the meeting, “All right, I’m going to go in the order that I see on my screen, Bob.” Bob has no idea he’s the top left corner of your screen.
And who’s next to him? They have no idea either. Every person is caught off guard and every person has to, like, find their mute button. And every person can’t remember, like, what were the prompts? Because they weren’t paying attention. And so, I have a whole method of teaching, which I call on deck. So even if you did that order, you’d be like, “Bob and then Mary. Mary then Joe.” But even better is to use the order that’s in the participant window, because if everyone’s muted, they go alphabetical. Or you can have a piece of paper that has people’s names. But as long as you say, who’s on deck each time, they’ll tune in, they’ll hear their name, and that’s an example of getting really comfortable about a slightly different format. And then the measuring piece is understanding how to use the poll and how to use the yes no feature and how to use…how to debrief a breakout room using chat and raised hands. The raised hand feature in the bottom participant window. If you have all those things. if you have the ingredients, and you’ve got the right pots and pans, and you’ve got the sharp knives, you’re going to make some really good food
if you follow the directions and at some point you won’t need the book anymore. You’ll have personalized the recipe. And that’s when it becomes a family recipe that you get to kind of like, just pull out and start doing and teaching and sharing with others. That’s when the technology, the medium fades, and it goes back to being all about your message. So I’ve gotten to that point because I, again, 5% better every single time. And that’s where we all need to get, because the mistakes that we made were many in March and April and June, that timeframe, we can’t keep doing. I went to something in March and April, two different times, where breakout rooms were not enabled. And that was one of the things we’re supposed to do. And one of them was a training for how to use Zoom, but they were using another organization’s Zoom link. And they hadn’t sent this checklist. And that’s when I came up with the checklist because in person, you and I would have an AV list, right? There’d be like, “Here’s what I need you to do for all my AV requirements,” and you
would double-check that it was done. I mean, we were not like brown M&Ms; people like Van Halen, but, you know, we’ve got our standards.
– There was actually a story behind that in terms of making sure the rest of the setlist was set.
– Exactly. That’s what I mean by that.
– Still, slightly insane.
– But that’s what I mean by like, we’re not maybe at that level of detail, but we had, like, this, you know, “Here’s our needs.” And I think that as professional speakers, we need to get to that standard again, because, you know, if you were to walk into a Marriott and tell an audience, “I was going to have slides, but I forgot to ask for projector in time.” Like, no one would think you’re a professional, but why would we be okay to be like, “I was going to do breakout rooms, but I forgot to ask to get them enabled.” Like, no, like, that was fine in March. That happens. Let’s learn from it. Let’s learn from it. In fact, one of the people who made that mistake actually said as we were leaving, “What I learned from last time is you got to wait 10 seconds before coming back in.” And all I heard was, “You didn’t learn from last time,” because it happened again. – I love that for two reasons.
One, that you kept with the kitchen metaphors, so good job on that. But then second of all, the fact that having that as a checklist, which we always make the show notes easy. This is Episode number 12, jasonlinett.com/12 will link to anything you reference here over there too.
– Think of it as like an AV writer, but online.
– No, but I’d love that because, especially, it’s not something you do once, because the really good thing about Zoom is they’re constantly improving the platform. The really bad thing about Zoom is they’re constantly improving the platform. And I was doing an event a few weeks ago and suddenly because the software had updated, suddenly my old settings didn’t transfer. And luckily, it was an event where I just popped in and I transferred the reigns to someone else, “Oh, cool. You’re going to be the host for 10 seconds.” And this is a hack in case you need it. I left the event, changed the settings, came back because it was mine, reclaimed the host title. And then suddenly we had it.
– So you’re saying, because some times that will work and for some things like breakout rooms, you actually have to close the meeting and restart the meeting. Which is like some things you can do, and some things you have to actually kick everyone out and bring them back in.
– Which is the perfect example of, again, the best problems in life for the ones that we either created ourselves or the ones we didn’t know existed, you know, until years ago, that suddenly now here’s what we’ve got to get good at. And I think the long-term effects as there’s a solution, as people are then healthier, and this is less of a concern, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on improving… There’s got to be a long-term viability that’s going to remain that we’ve now proven this is a viable platform and this is an option. The turning point was I was at a convention in Las Vegas in the end of February, where at that point, this was kind of in the news. And there was a real estate meeting next door.
And I was in the hallway at a vendor table talking to a friend, and the same guy kept coming out, checking his phone, going back in. And the best networking begins with something that opens up a conversation. I forget the comedian who goes, “People get into an elevator and say, “Hey, it looks like it’s going to rain today.” What if instead you got in the elevator and went, “I haven’t talked to my brother in 12 years.” Now. We’ve got something to talk about.” I think it was Mark Marin. But I looked at this guy and rather than going, “How’s it going?” I said, “Another meeting that could have been an email, right?” He goes, “Yeah.” And he was in my head as everything shut down and we had to cancel conferences and then move the other ones online because I’m sure whatever that annual meeting was could have been an interactive webinar. What do you think the long-term effects we’re going to see are going to be?
– Prior the pandemic, an online access ticket was a camera on a tripod in the back of the room pointed at the main stage for $99.
– Thank you.
Just because the camera’s on doesn’t mean you have a product.
– Yeah. And people were like, “Awesome. Thank you.” You know, I think that we will have to up-level quite a bit because, you know, I keep talking about 5% better and I will tell you just now that I have a 4-week program where I certify people to become a virtual event design professional, and it’s called the 5% advantage program. So I’m really down on this continuous improvement and the organizations that don’t keep doing online events are going to be really, really stuck when it’s time to do hybrid. Because that’s the next phase. The next phase is that they will be a mixture of maybe a third of the people in person, maybe a third, and then two thirds online. But in the past, we’ve never done that in a way that’s preferenced the online people. Think about a conference room where you’re all sitting around a conference call and
there’s three people on the phone call and there’s nine in the room. Those three people in the phone call get forgotten about. No one forgets to even ask them for their updates. But what if it were nine people on the phone and three in the room? You know, like, you’d start with, “All right, let’s go through who’s on the call.” And then you would end with who was in person. And that’s the shift that we have to make. And there needs to be two MCs or two people sort of moderating. And I did do my first hybrid event. It was a small event. It was for a youth organization that was having a discussion and they had 10 people in the room and 30 online. And so, I managed the 30 online. There was a facilitator in the room. She posed questions. So when she was talking, she was one of the squares and people behind her were sitting down, spaced out with masks. And then we did our breakout rooms and they got into two small groups to have their discussion. And then we came back and looked at their script, I said, “The online group will
always go first to give feedback, and then we’ll go to the people in the room.” And so that’s the sort of example of, even for a small group, and I will tell you that was a 90-minute meeting that took 90 minutes to plan. And that was a very easy meeting. But, you know, I had to talk her through like, “You gave me a script that has nothing to do with the online experience. Let’s rewrite this and script this in a different way.” But it’s, again, what is the objective? The objective is that people feel engaged and have the ability to connect. I think it’s not going away because there are companies that have literally said remote only from now on. And if that’s true, there are industries related to those organizations that are going to have to be curating online options for everything they do from now on. So I think that the expectation will be that there’ll be a high-standard in-person event and a high-standard online event happening at the same time, which is two events, which is very complicated.
And the people who haven’t worked out the little kinks about being online now are going to be very behind when we get to that point. And I don’t know, I was asked a couple of months ago to think about a three-year horizon because when the pandemic hit, I started thinking like 18 months, 2 years. Like, I couldn’t look past that. It was a very interesting exercise thinking of, like, what’s life, like three years from now? And I do think we’re going to have in person events three years now. I just don’t think we’re going to get back to, you know, several thousand people gathering all the time because that’s the only way to meet. I think it’ll be very few, very select, very purposeful, and that will have way more content, high quality engaging content happening online. So it’s not going away.
– Yeah. Which I’d love for you to send me a link to the course and we’ll stick that over in the show notes so people can check that out. That sounds outstanding.
– Yeah. It’s funny, like, it’s part of my story actually, because, so just hear this for a second, Jason. March 13th is the first time I ever did a virtual happy hour. March 20th is the first time I opened up breakout rooms on my own
in that weekly event. April 14th, I set up a registration page on Zoom, which I had never, prior to that moment knew existed and started collecting email addresses. I’m now closing in on 1000 email addresses that have come in through that system. I then have 50 to 60 people coming every week. And May I launch a four-week program to teach people Zoom and online facilitation virtual event design, which was a term that I just sort of made up to explain what I was doing. Because it’s not just about Zoom, right? It’s about the experience with regards to the platform, even though Zoom’s kind of like Kleenex and Xerox at this point. And that 4-week program had 14 people in the pilot and 40 people ran through the program over the next 4 months. It turned into a certification program. I’ve now been certifying. I got 5 people certified and another 10 that are in the process of submitting their videos. The 4-week program by itself is not how you earn it. You actually then have to submit a separate video, there’s requirements and
criteria because I got a couple of virtual badges that I thought I hadn’t worked that hard for. And I thought that these people were working so hard to learn these skills that I want them to able to stand out. And the ones who already earned their certification, half have been producers like meeting planners and half have been speakers. And they’ve all gotten gigs immediately because, like, it helps us stand out. And then now I have one of my offerings is that if I can’t do your event, if I can’t do the strategy and the Zoom and everything, I’ll do the strategy and then I will hire them. And they also contract to these people who I’ve certified. And so I just had a client who last minute needed help and 3 of my people did 22 hours of training to do the production for her and I did the strategy part. And so this is the future of my business is that I don’t have to be everywhere. That I can scale this and help a lot more people by giving them a very high standard of what to expect in a Zoom producer. And then I provide the strategy to make sure that it’s consistent.
So it’s, like, who knew? None of these things existed in my life.
– Yeah. That’s a title that we wouldn’t have thought of years ago and now that’s the thing that as soon as you…the measure of a good product is that it delivers exactly what someone needs. And as soon as you hear that, you know, you go, “Oh, wait, we need that. That’s why that event didn’t go well.” I spoke at a conference online a few weeks ago and just, we all happened to be in the same room and they were practically pleading people in the audience, “Please turn on your cameras. That way the speakers can see you when…” You’ve been in front of a camera enough that we can turn it on if we need to, but it’s so much better with an audience there. Robbie, it’s been awesome having you here as one of the guests here on Hypnotic Language Hacks, and we do things a little bit differently sometimes here that most podcasts kind of open with that origin story. The goal sometimes is to close with that and here’s the reason why I ask it this way. That so many people are either stuck in a startup phase or stuck in a
scale-up phase, that when you look at major life changes, major things that we’ve gone through, yes, sometimes it took some time to get to that discovery, that epiphany, but we can also rewind it back to, like, one specific turning point where that was the moment where we went, “Enough is enough.” So what was that…was there a turning point for you in terms of letting this become your business, letting this become the thing that became that burning desire that you had to share?
– There were sort of two moments. One was March 11th when I was talking to my peer mastermind and saying, “How do I show up an add value right now?” Because as we’ve already demonstrated, what I was known for was not relevant. And I really, I think the mindset there was not, how do I have a business? How do I sell something? It wasn’t what was me. It was, how do I show up? How do I add value? How do I serve? And I kept saying, “What we will remember 10 years from now is who showed up. How do I show up?” And my peer mastermind said, “Robbie,” they were kicking me
in the butt. They were like, “You know a lot about networking. It’s not about happening at events. You love online, go write something. Go create something.” So I think that was the first kick in the pants to take action. And I remember feeling really stuck. I mean, I remember feeling a little bit of like, “What am I going to do here?” But when I looked back on the calendar, it was March 9th through the morning of March 12th. So I got off that like pity party really fast. And the other was April 14th when I created a registration page and I didn’t know what it was going to turn into, but I knew that, but that by, like, calling to me, great community people by hosting… My secret power has been hosting. And it’s not a secret because I want everyone else to be able to do it too. So I actually think the fact that I doubled down and committed to, by the way, my #NoMoreBadZoom Virtual Happy Hour will happen the day after U.S.
Thanksgiving, will happen on Christmas. I had to have a whole conversation with my wife about that second one. There are people who are depending on this to happen, we are their community. They might live alone, you know, they might not have a family they can bring together. We are forming that. And so, I think the fact that anybody, it’s almost like an equal playing field. Before, to do that would have required, like, rentals and negotiating with bars and bar tabs and security and invitations. Nope. Turn on your Zoom, tell people about it, and be consistent. So that decision to commit to that has led to everything else. And I just think a big piece of this is saying yes, and then I’ll figure out how to do it. Yes. And I’ll figure how to do it. Yes. And I’ll figure out how to do it. And I felt like I was following a lot of different revenue possibilities for a few months there. And now they’re starting to kind of hone down into a few focused ones,
but I hired a person who’s helped me create better systems and processes. I had invested quite heavily in that for three months, I’m getting a whole new website done as part of another package that I’m doing. So I’m investing right now in my business because I need to be ready for what 2021 will become. And back in March, if you had told me back in March that this would be my reality now at the end of the year, like, I don’t know. I would have been like, “I hope that’s true. I can’t see that, but I hope that’s true.” And I am grateful and blessed that I’m here. The world is metaphorically and literally on fire and I’m able to provide for my family and create something that other people can benefit from, which is the best feeling in the world, honestly, Jason. And so, my parting words would be everybody should host something on a regular basis and that will help them get better in their hosting, better at their speaking, and they’ll create something for other people, which has been a great way to identify new prospects.
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