UPDATED: June 13, 2017
Conference organizers commission me to speak before their audiences nationwide because I am undeniably good at getting people excited, engaged, motivated. Further, having worked with the likes of the 2012 Obama Presidential campaign, AOL, the Nielsen Company, the Department of Defense, and dozens of other brands and agencies, I can teach attendees some actionable tactics they could use to market their businesses.
I am always keen to stand before a crowd, look at their eyes, speak to them, make them laugh, answer their questions, and help them do what they want to do with their lives. I would not say I am totally fearless because my stomach twists a bit sometimes before I speak. Nonetheless, my need to help as many people as I can at one time, by communicating the lessons I have drawn from my experiences, is so great that my fear becomes that bloody scuff on your knee you got after falling off of your bike that you quickly forgot about after your dog licked it.
I can’t relate to the idea that the fear of public speaking is only second to the fear of death. Once I am on stage, I am at home.
Am I an attention whore? The stage or any floor reserved for me to speak in front of people is Neal’s magnet. I literally run to the stage, jump off the stage, walk back and forth, so I can look into as many people’s eyes as possible; I have people cheer and chant the conference’s name. Then I start cracking jokes or telling funny stories concerning the content I am teaching.
I have worked with clients that have paid me up to $25,000 a month after performing at a speaking engagement. Although I teach tactics that brand stakeholders could use to generate more revenue for their businesses, public speaking is one of my most highly-paid marketing channels.
I remember my first two public performances. I was Dr. Manners in a P.S. 99 school play called, Dr. Manners. At the age of nine, I remember I forgot one of my lines, but I do not remember any fear linked to that instance. At the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Kingdom Hall (in Florida or New York, I forget) I delivered a speech on a couple of Bible verses at around the same age (not sure which performance came first). I could not stop my legs from shaking standing behind the podium.
About a decade later, I became a nightclub promoting rapper, and performed with the likes of Q-Tip, Rah Digga, Channel Live, and other recording artists. I rapped before hundreds of people weekly for about a year. Loved the rush, but I hated having to rap for free.
Then I delivered about four or five speeches as a student in the Borough of Manhattan Community College. During one, I slammed a book on the desk and screamed “Blow!” when discussing the Kennedy shooting. I always captured the speech class’s attention, and I got an A. I also got a scholarship to NYU after playing the role of a cocaine-sniffing corrupt lawyer who loved Salsa, Hip-Hop, R&B, and taking his women’s money.
When I deliver these speeches, I rigorously prepare what I want to say, and how I want to say it. I enunciate my words very clearly. My improvised lines always get a laugh. The endorphin rush is euphoric.
Technically, I did not know what I was doing until last year when I heard motivational speaker Tony Robbins teach audience members how to put themselves in high-energy states to solve their biggest problems. At Dreamforce 16, a conference hosted by Salesforce, the CRM SaaS company, Mr. Robbins told people to greet and scream at each other, jump, clap, move their bodies, and perform other physical actions to generate energy.
I move my body when I speak. I dance when I speak. I want your brain waves to move to the rhythm at which I am saying my words. I want to make my public performance one of the most memorable experiences of your life. Those actions allow me to perform among the most influential marketers on the planet. It is what allows me to work efficiently.
Whether you are aiming to speak publicly or speak to a prospect to whom you could sell your product, ensure that you prepare, prepare, and prepare some more. Write down exactly what you want to say when you introduce your presentation. Firmly pronounce every word aloud and repeat everything until you can say it in a way that makes you want to do what you’re telling people to do. Put together a spreadsheet or just an outline and list everything you could anticipate a member of your audience will say to you. Then write down what will be your response. Repeat those statements until you can pronounce them clearly and emphatically.
Sit at the edge of your seat when you’re typing your words. Pull your shoulders back. Sit upright, and walk around while you are thinking of what to write. Feel free to stretch out, do some push ups, or even shadowbox a little. Just perform enough activity to get your blood flowing if you feel drowsy.
A few other tactics that I perform to get as much energy as I need include but are not limited to the following:
I aim to get 7 to almost 8 hours of sleep for about half of the week. On a good night’s rest, I can get up, perform my workouts, drop the kids off at school, and start grinding. For the other days when I do not get that amount of rest, it may be harder to perform more passive tasks. So if I have to get something done and I only slept 4 to 5 hours, for instance, I may pause for a five to 10-minute nap if I feel spent. I have napped for 30 minutes to an hour on a few days when I have barely gotten any sleep the night before. For the most part, if I barely slept the night before, I will work through the day without a nap and go to bed early (9 pm or so), so I could get up at 5 am on a full tank.
ProTip: While I am sleeping sometimes, my mind starts to race, I wake up with an idea, I write it down, but then I can’t get back to sleep. If you wake up at night and can’t get back to sleep, try what I do and drink half a cup of plain Kefir with a teaspoon of olive oil. Based on my research, Kefir’s equal level of protein and carbohydrates balances your hormones and puts you back in sleep mode. It also helps you generate energy when you’re up and at it.
Learn how to eat
When I am in work mode, I try my best to strictly eat lean protein, vegetables, fruits, or other low-density carbohydrates, and monounsaturated fats at each meal. I learned how to eat this way following Dr. Barry Sears, developer of the anti-inflammatory lifestyle, the Zone Diet. According to Dr. Sears, when you eat this way you balance your glucagon and insulin hormones. Dr. Sears writes that protein produces glucagon that stops insulin from rising. When insulin rises too quickly from eating high-density carbohydrates, like bread, potatoes, and pasta, the hormone produces inflammatory substances like arachidonic acid. Inflammation causes disease and keeps you tired. That’s why some people get sleepy after eating rice, bread, or pasta. The more you eat in what Dr. Sears calls “The Zone,” the fewer aches, pains, and wear you will feel on your body. You will have all the energy you need and never need coffee again.
Do what you Love
I’ll admit it; certain tasks put me to sleep. Once I discover one, I pay someone else to do it. The more I do exactly what I love doing, the more I do not feel tired. For instance, I have at times prepared for a talk the next day working through the night, and since I am eager to kill it the next morning, feeling sleepy or tired is the last thing on my mind. You develop the drive that makes you unstoppable. Aim to solely do what you love doing. Delegate everything else.
Sometimes when I feel tired, I work hard at getting everything I need to complete all day. I barely take a break. This practice works because once the clock hits 8 or 9 pm; I am a 747 looking for a runway on which to land. I floss and brush my teeth, and go to sleep without any tossing, turning, or other delays whatsoever. I then wake up at around 5 am with all the energy I need to kick some more ass the following day.
I work out six days a week for about an hour each day. Some of you saw my last snow-storm workout. I do muscle-ups, pull-ups, pike push-ups, inclined push-ups, push-ups on my wrists, basketball drills and a wide variety of other body-weight exercises. And that’s just because I stopped running and have more work on my plate. I used to do a lot more. My first set of pull-ups could wake up King Tut. Although you are exhausted, you have such a rush that you feel like you could eat the metal bar from which you’re pulling yourself. Even if you can only manage to workout for 20 minutes, do it at high intensity. It will get your blood flowing, and it will also help you sleep better at night. As your heart and muscles get stronger than before, you will also feel the urge to work out for longer periods of time.
Listen to Hardcore Music
Try listening to music that makes you want to dominate whatever you are about to do. Do not buy that line that you have to listen to classical music to stimulate your brain. Listen to what you would hear while working out in a gym; the kind of music that makes you feel like you could bend the bar with your bare hands. I, for instance, listen to 1980’s and 90’s hardcore hip-hop or rap artists who started their careers in that decade. Although I don’t condone everything they are saying now, at one point in my life, I was a very wild person. Once I take that attitude and channel it through the work I have to perform, I do what needs to get done.
Take a cold shower
I prepare my body to tolerate below freezing temperatures by breathing as deeply as I can and exhaling less air than I inhaled. I repeat that process about 10 to 30 times or until the cold water splashing down on my face (while it is below 20 degrees outside) does not hurt anymore.
I have a love/hate relationship with cold temperatures. I love the cold season because it trains my body to keep itself warm; I hate it for the same reason. A cold shower will help alleviate many of your body aches, and, I forgot to tell you, it wakes you up. Try it!
As you perform these actions every day, you will get in the habit of completing your work at high-energy levels. You will reach more of your objectives as you become more efficient in completing your daily tasks.
What do you do to get yourself operating most efficiently? Let me know in the comments below.