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From setting them up for others as a former rock roadie to teaching people how to speak in public, Rich Mulholland knows his way around a stage. This man is an expert in communication, whether it’s on the scale of millions or one on one.

Speaking to Steve Sims for The Art of Making Things Happen podcast, Mulholland described the purpose of his company, Missing Link: “Help people suck less in public.” And suck, they do, with the number one fear among Americans being public speaking. But to Mulholland, “The idea that you’re petrified of it is ridiculous. It should be great fun.”

Why a Story is Like a Horse – or Peanut Butter

Now, you may be like us, who came into this conversation with Mulholland thinking that everybody is a storyteller these days. And you’d be wrong. As Mulholland explains, the story is the tool, not the product. “Your job isn’t to tell a story,” he explains. “Your job is to make people act differently because you were there. The way to make people act differently is to use stories.”

Like giving a dog a pill hidden in some peanut butter, your job is to communicate information, lessons, and data in the sweet, easily digestible package of a story. The idea may sound groundbreaking, but it’s no different from the Trojan horse. Says Mulholland, “Most people think it’s about the story. It’s not about the story. It’s about the pill. The peanut butter is simply a delivery mechanism.”

Everybody (Yes, Including You!) is a Speaker

If you’re thinking that this information isn’t for you because you don’t spend much time on stage, you’d be wrong. Because everybody can benefit from learning to communicate better. Explains Mulholland, “My job is to help everybody understand that you all should be a speaker to some regard, whether that is as a parent in a household, you’ve got a job that you have to communicate. We’re all communicators as a living.”

A Speaker’s Two Jobs

According to Mulholland, every speaker has two jobs. Job one is to make the audience aware of their problem, of the dragon they need to slay. “The first step is give your audience a reason to care.” Once you’ve done that, job two is to help them slay that dragon. Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about them.

If this sounds tricky – well, sure, it can be. But improving at it is the same as any other skill. It’s all about practice. “Public speaking is something that you should be practicing all the time in front of people while it matters. So by the time you get on to that big stage… it shouldn’t matter. It should just be another day at the office,” explains Mulholland.

Then, you can focus on carving out your audience’s path to victory. “What you want to do is create motion in your audience – motion that didn’t exist before you went on… You want to ask them to do the smallest single thing that they could do possible,” says Mulholland.

At its core, Mulholland’s whole framework breaks down into four simple steps:

  1. Give them a reason to care
  2. Give them a reason to believe
  3. Tell them what they need to know
  4. Tell them what they need to do

Take it to the Next Level

Want to improve your communication and speaking skills so that getting up on stage feels less like terror and more like second nature? Mulholland offers a speaker mentorship program as well as many other resources to help you improve.

For more great content on business, entrepreneurship, and more, follow the The Art of Making Things Happen Podcast.

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