The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 4 years ago

Jay Mays on How to "Own" a Room and Increase Your Presentation Skills

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Most of us fear public speaking. That’s a problem in client-facing professions like sales, where presentation skills can make or break relationships.

So why don’t more of us actively try to break out of our shells and practice what we pitch? Jay Mays, Co-Founder of Pitch Lab, thinks that a solution is rooted in stand-up comedy. We sat down with Mays to learn how his experience in stand-up comedy helped him become a better sales professional and inspire others to do the same.

You were listening to the BDB revenue executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping the executives train their sales and marketing teams to optimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three, two, one. Welcome everyone to the B Tob Revenue Executive Experience. I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking with Jay May's about pitch lab and how you can better own a room and increase your presentation skills. Jay, I want to thank you very much for taking your time to be on the show today. Thank you chat. I appreciate you having me so before we get started, we like to ask random questions of our guests, something that help people make that human connection. So any hobbies that you have that people would be surprised to learn about our passions outside of work? Well, that's more talk about. That's right, that's right, exactly. Now I work a ton, I have two young kids, trying to trying to keep all the balls in the air, but the one thing that I do that I'm not doing enough is float tanks. Ever heard of isolation tanks. Have you heard about this? So like in a dark, like float in the dark with a century deprivation. Yes, yes, Joe Rogan, he's got a he's got a great podcast I'm sure you've heard of as well. He talked a lot about it and really piqued my interests, so I started trying it. I do it about once a month, but yeah, it's like a it's like a coffin that they fill up on me. I'm really not kidding. They fill up with about about six inches of water and then they dump in about eight hundred pounds of EPPs and salt. So you float on top and then when you shut the lid, you lose pretty much all five of your senses. So it's so dark in there you can't see. Your Eyes Open and your eyes shut, you're perceiving the same thing. You can't hear anything, you can't you can't feel anything because the water you're floating and it's the same temperature as your body.

And then you can't taste anything, obviously. But when you take away those senses and you take away that noise, you lay there for a half hour hour, it's just it's very interesting where your mind takes you. So that would be the the most interesting thing that I got going on that I'd love to be doing more of. I have to have think if you locked me in there, it would be like maybe I'd have, you know, flashback all the assid right. I mean seriously, like your brains got to go some pretty weird places. That's it? Oh, no, yeah, absolutely. You. You. You turn on yourself. You think about all the visualization of the things you want to do and every time has been different. So you can't just go once and expect that to be like your opinion. You got to give it like at least two or three times to really understand it. But it's yeah, it's fantastic. I definitely recommend if if you want to go, just type in float tank and then whatever city or in and lots of opportunity these pop up. So there you go. That is the most fascinating. That is the most fascinating answer to that question I have had. That is awesome. Thank you for that. Thank you for so today we want to focus on pitch lab but before we do that, before you go deep into that, tell our audience how you got started in sales and how that led to bitch pitch lab and how the comedy element rolls all into it. Yeah, yeah, so my my experiences on a twenty year sales guy and seven years as a as a stand up comic. If you didn't know, Chad I was one of the biggest names in Denver. Unpaid comedy, no, but seven years is a standup comedian. Twenty years of sales and I always thought that the idea of an open mic right, that that comedians are always out there, once too three times at night, hitting these mics, whether there's an audience or not, to hone their skills, to practice their material, just to get up there and work that muscle was always so fascinating. But all throughout my sales career, every time you're...

...pitching it's like it's for stakes and and you know you're cutting your teeth on potential opportunities that you're missing out on. You combine that with Denver's got a fantastic entrepreneurial startup scene. There's a bunch of entrepreneurs that are learning how to pitch while being in front of investors and that's not the right time. So I thought, Hey, man, what if we could come up, if some type of open mic for sales people, for entrepreneurs, to get better at their pitch so when it came time to really shine, they were ready to go. So that was the beginning of it. It's evolved into more curriculum, it's evolved into a life of its own. But but really at the beginning was how do I differentiate myself as a consultant? How do I build my brand? And at the intersection of sales and comedy, for me really is pitch lab. Well, and as we were doing the warm up, probably not the right word, but as we're talking before we hit record, you tell me the story about how you got that first pitch lab book. I would love if you would recount that for the audience because it's an excellent example of you've got an idea and sometimes just voicing it to the right people all of a sudden kicks in a bunch of momentum. Absolutely, absolutely, yeah, and even back to Seth God, and not that fuck it ship. It like yeah, let's roll with it. So so, yeah, I was kicking around the idea saying hey, you know, what would you think about salespeople making pitches and instead of you know, Shark tank where people were criticizing the content of the pitch. It was more stand up Comedians, Improv coaches, storytellers, giving feedback on on the techniques, on the public speaking and and things like that in the presentation and performance. So I was at lunch with my friend R J O and who you know as well, and talking about the idea and he said, you know what, that's a fantastic idea. I think my friend of Gal of an eyes would really like to do that. So I said, okay, cool, you know, thinking, Hey, he likes the idea, let's see where it goes. By the time lunch was over, I drove home, he had already...

...emailed galvanize Galvin. I said it sounds like a fantastic idea and we had our pilots set for the end of last August, just like that, and I was like, Oh God, okay, I guess we gotta, we got we got to get this thing together. It's real. That's right right, setting that, setting that but and again, a lot of the motivational guys out there talk about putting yourself into a situation, setting that deadline where you're ready or not, and then scrambling towards that. Getting what seventy eighty percent on test learn iterate for there. So I definitely owe rj a lot in getting the ball rolling and that that ignition of pitch lab. And so when was that first one? When, just from a timeline, standpoo August thirty one of last year. So August, September, uptob yeah, so we're about fourteen months old now. Okay, and how's it been going? Any surprises? Um, yeah, I would say so. When I started out I thought it was going to be all about salespeople, right and and only sales people would be through the door. And what I've learned is a lot of people want these presentation skills outside of sales and it's really turned into more of a client facing opportunity, whether you're a sales engineer, are and evangelist and account manager, a project manager, a tech guy that has to do sprint demos, or even executives that want to, you know, brush up on on how to be more engaging in front of teams. So so the fact that so many people have embraced and has been fantastic actually on that, let me let me ask you. According to studies, the number one fear of the average American is public speaking. That's an actual statistic. The number one fear is public speaking. Do you know what number two is? Death? Actually, it's trump's next tweet. No, it's you're right, your rights death. So number one is public speaking. Number two his death.

And Jerry Seinfeld's got an awesome joke and he says so, if you're the average American and you go to a funeral, you'd rather be in the casket than give the eulogy. Right. So, so it really I and I'm not saying that we're solving we're solving the fear of public speaking, but I think that's what drives a lot of people is, you know, you get to a certain point in your career and you have to talk in front of people, whether it's four or five coworkers or you know, you're in a sales pitch and the entire executive teams shows up and you're in front of ten or twelve people. That creates a bit of anxiety. And then the other stat that that I've learned along the way as in some cases your nonverbal communication can make up to even ninety three percent of what you're communicating. Right, so your voice, your body language is up to ninety three percent of what you're totally communicating. And and by example of that is, have you ever gotten in a in a fight with your wife over text message because she couldn't understand? That's or somebody apologizes to you and they don't really mean it, because you could tell by their body language and their voice. It's those type of things. And then the other thing is, I mean you and your personal life. How many times have you bailed on buying a product or a service? Or maybe think back to the last car you bought because you didn't like the salesperson. Yeah, it's, yeah, right. or or how many times have you been snookered into buying something because you just like the guy or the Gal and you're just like, you know what, I'm just going to go ahead and I'm going to so it's fires remorse kicks in. You got it, you got it. But I really believe, I mean in some cases, if you're selling a super cool product and you're able to you know you got your right brand message, you got your right positioning, you're differentiated. Fantastic, you know you don't need to worry about this. But even back when you and I worked in professional services, I truly believe the client facing team becomes the differentiator, you know, in in professional services,...

...especial correct. I mean they're buying the people and the expertise in the way they interact and connect with them. They're not necessarily buying the service. I mean Shit, other people did the same thing we did, but it was the teams that you put from in the way that they interact and connected, it made all the difference. You got it, you got it. So that was the that was the impetus. Sair, I hope I direct both directly and indirectly, answered that question those it was perfect. It's funny that you talked about public speaking and I was literally driving on my commute this morning listening to him. You and I were talking about him before we hit record anthony and a Reno's podcast in the arena, and he was talking to the guy, McGill is his last name, just released a book called psyched up and he was talking about how he was researching the book. It seems like, from what they've been able to uncover, that the stage fright actually came from the genesis of it was once the stage got lit and the audience was in the dark. Something happened to increase that anxiety to the point where it became that number one fear. I mean, I'll be the first to admit I stayed in front of rooms all the time talking and I every time, every damn time I get you know, the butterflies kick in, like I'm thinking of myself, of all the other places I'd rather be than standing in front of that room. So that fear is is quite compelling and so, you know, having something that helps people get over it, makes them feel more comfortable, I think it's extremely powerful thing to bring to the market. That's awesome. Yeah, and same with me. I mean I'm still doing pitch lab. We just did Denver Startup Week. It was a room of over two hundred. I knew the content, I knew what I was doing and I was just I was freaked out, you know, actually like nervous. Do you know you? Because I mean I've seen you and you're every time. But it goes away once I start. So what they say, and we talked about this in the pitch lab workshop, but it's not about killing the butterflies, it's about getting them to fly in formation. And so what that means is it's it's for real. Follow me here. It's not about calming down, it's about reframing that anxiety as excitement. So basically...

...what you're really trying to do is reframe it because because what science shows us is whether you're anxious or excited, your body, on a physical level, is reacting very close to the same way. So if you repeat the mantra I am excited, I am excited, you're reframing those feelings and then using that as positive energy on the stage and then usually after the first minute or two, you get your first laugh, you get out there, you're doing a lot better. But I think it's a natural, basically a primitive instinct to feel that. It's just your job to reframe that and to say this is excitement, this isn't nervousness. It doesn't always happen, I mean I still get like sometimes I'm like man, I'm really nervous about this, but over time you're feeling that in you're using that energy, you know, to really bring a great energy to the stage. And so out of the pitch labs, as you guys have done, is there a team that was pitching or somebody that was pitching that you've heard that you were is the most memorable for you. Oh, so, let's go back to dumber start up we because that's still fresh in my mind. On Wednesday night we did this. It was mostly a fun event. It was a little bit educational but a lot of fun, and we called it the battle of the startups, entrepreneurs verse Comedians, and so what we did is we had two of the best entrepreneurs in Denver go headtohead against two of the funniest comedians in Denver and I gave them each a funny pitch topic. So the pitch topics were things like so they had to pretend like they were entrepreneurs with this idea, and then I had a panel of Comedians and Improv coaches and storytellers that were actually judging. And so the ideas were like I had one guy do energy drinks for zoo animals. So so the problem was zoos are boring and attendance or down. So he invented an organic, all natural energy drink to hop up the animals to make us more exciting. We did we did meat water, which...

...was industrial farming is killing the environment. So why don't we? Why don't we find a new way to get protein out of animals via ous Moses. So they're soaking cows to get protein out of them and it's called a meat water anyway. So the answer question directly Anthony Franco. I don't know if you know him, but old founder of Eui Effective Ui and he does MC squares. He did D cheese printers and I'm telling you, he destroyed I've never seen somebody. I mean he had d motion graphics in his presentation. You had cad models, he brought a he brought a prototype, he put on a lab coat, he had the emotion, he had the stuff. I mean he destroyed it and the entrepreneur is actually, yeah, they actually beat the Comedians in that. But what I like about bringing those fake pitches and having people do that is when you g get the you know, you get that shark tank out of there. Well, I don't believe that that's the market. CAPP or, I don't believe that's the right strategy. When you do a lighter, sillier pitch, you could focus on technique, right, you could focus on the delivery, the room command, the storytelling and then be able to bring those skills into into, you know, the true work that you do. So it was it was fun, it was entertaining, but it was also, I think, real useful to be able to you know, we talked about right before the show getting your own head out of it to be able to focus on and would you say, get the weed whacker out and raise your head a little bit more. So it's a real powerful tool to be able to do those funny pitches. And what's the feedback been from attendees that have, you know, come to the events? What and what are they hoping to get out of it when they get there? Yeah, so I would say most people are are curious, right they number one, they want to pull back the curtain on the world of stand up comedy and Improv comedy and figure out what these folks are doing that's on stage that's so fantastic, that makes them seem so effortless. And then the...

...other thing is they're looking for that that actionable, actionable takeaway to be able to bring to work the next day. So we run through, I would say basically seven different modules, seven different techniques, from how to how to deal with those butterflies to room command, meaning breaking the fourth wall. Are you familiar with that term? Breaking the fourth wall. Yes, yes, yeah, so, so. Things like, you know, never ignore interruptions if you're present in the room, if you see it, see it, you feel it. Your audience feels that. You got to call it. Things even like you know your stage presence. Never stand behind a podium right, get out behind the podium. Your audience needs to see you to trust you. These are little things. And in sales pitches I see so many sales guys sitting behind a laptop where their laptop is up right and it's like a game of battleship and it's like, you know, I appreciate you might need to pitch with that laptop, but position it so that energy right. It's all this nonverbal communication. The other thing is a lot of people come and they say I have problems with I talked too fast. People tell me I'm talking too fast or I do too many ums and os or hey, I want to tell more stories. What are the best practices for storytelling, you know? Or if it's a bigger stage, they say how do I where do I stand? Do I paste? Do I not paste? Do I stand still? What do I do? I mean, I think there's just really a need for these basic techniques to give people some tools so so they can have that and then be able to not think about it after they have the tools and then really focus on connecting and being authentic and, you know, work in the room and selling. But I think when you when you get on stage there, for lack of a better ru to get in that spotlight your brain, if you're if you're processing too many things and running cycles on too many things, it's really taking away from from what that message is and moving the ball forward. And that, you know, in the...

...sales process, excellent. So are there other people involved in pitch? Lamity partners, individuals you'd like the highlight? Yeah, we talked about R J RJ Owen, Christian Whitney. He's a local guy here. He's our creative director. He's the guy that built our brand and all our assets and he made us, you know, look pro from day one. Tommy why is one of our stand up comedy coaches. David Soto helps us with digital marketing, and then we got a bunch of panelists, right folks, that that help gives actionable feedback. HITE McGuire here in town, Joel lots is does our Improv Tim Schistler, who I'm doing a workshop with. He's a major storyteller. And then a ton of great comedians. Our next our next pitch lab next week starring Ben Kromberg, and I don't know if you know Ben, but he's been, yeah, common central and last comic standing. So, you know, to be able to bring that level of fame into a workshop, I'm really happy about that. And then other local guys, Jad Lopez, Daniel reskin. All the sudden this is turning into an academy award. Hold on, let me get my papers. I don't forget anybody, but yeah, I know it's not. It's a team effort. You know, it's absolutely a team effort to do this and you know I can bring a lot of value, but these guys are all bringing great perspectives to help give the feedback to the you know, the local professionals here. So I'm real grateful for those guys. Excellent Jay. If a listeners interest of finding out more about pitch lab or connecting with you, what are the best ways to do that? Yeah, Pitch Lab DOT ioh, Pitch Lab Dot I. Oh, it's got our blog on there, some past events, some of the great work we've done with local agencies, Americorps. We did an awesome Improv comedy workshop and then, if you want to contact me right through the sign up for the email, contact me through the website. It's all their pitch lab by. Oh, excellent. I can't think. You know a few times as day. It's been great having you on the show. Thanks for having me, Chad. All right, everyone that does it for this episode. Please check us out of BB REV exaccom. Share the episode...

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