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**Disclaimer: The audio on our guest’s end is horrible. However, the content is fantastic and worth listening to. Please don’t write in to comment about the audio quality–we already know.***

Want to feel more confident on your conference calls or Skype business calls?  Listen in as Stacey Hanke shares key points on how to master virtual conversations.

Stacey Hanke is co-author of the book, “Yes You Can!: Everything You Need From A To Z To Influence Others To Take Action.”

Throughout her career, Stacey trained over 15,000 people on how to enhance their influence, conquer public speaking fears, rid themselves of bad body language habits and choose words wisely.

In this episode we discussed:

  • How to be a better communicator in virtual conversations, webinars, etc. (6:32)
  • 3 ideas to improve your next virtual conversation. (8:36)
  • The importance of establishing ground rules at the beginning of each virtual meeting. (12:01)
  • How to boost your performance in a one-on-one or small group interaction if you’re not a high energy person. (17:16)
  • The advantages of audio and video taping yourself during virtual conversations. (22:15)
Find out more about Stacey Hanke and her upcoming projects.

00:00 Michael Port: Welcome to Steal The Show with Michael Port. This is Michael. Today’s guest is Stacey Hanke, great name. Now I’m doing this introduction separately because the audio quality wasn’t quite as good; her Skype connection wasn’t perfect so, you can hear her no problem, we’re gonna work on sweetening it up, but it’s not perfect. So I just wanted you to know that it’s a 27 minute interview; it’s worth every second so even if the audio isn’t perfect, stay with it because it’s worth it.

00:33 Michael Port: So let me tell you about Stacey, she is the co-author of the book Yes You Can! Everything You Need From A to Z To Influence Others To Take Action. She has trained over 15,000 people to rid themselves of bad body language habits and choose words wisely. She has inspired thousands as a featured guest on media outlets including the New York Times, Smart Money Money magazine, Business Week, Life Time Network, Chicago WGN, and WLS-AM. So let’s give a big warm welcome to speaker, author, and fitness junky Stacey Hanke. It’s a great rhyme. Hi, Stacey how are you?

01:34 Stacey Hanke: Hi, I’m good. How are you?

01:36 Michael Port: I’m good. So thank you so much for taking the time to do this, I wanna jump in with a story from you. I saw a video that you did, and you told this fantastic story about a client’s interaction with a cab driver, and I would love you to retell it for my listeners. Would you do that?

01:53 Stacey Hanke: I would love to tell that story. That story is so powerful, Michael, for our clients because it really addresses that most people may not be as influential as they think they are, that we just don’t what we don’t know.

02:04 Michael Port: Wait, are you saying I’m not as influential as I think I am?

02:08 Stacey Hanke: There might be a slight possibility.

02:10 Michael Port: Oh my God, I don’t know I’m… Okay, alright. Okay go ahead, I can handle it I think.

02:15 Stacey Hanke: There is a story around… True story how my team and I we were working with a large firm, a group of partners. And we’re getting ready that morning and there’s a partner, she walks in the room, and you ever run into those individuals where they make your head turn because they carry themselves with executive presence. And what I mean by this is she walks in the room as if she owned it, she had one of those hand shakes you will never forget, she looked you dead in the eye and made it look effortless. We’re at the portion of the workshop where we’re talking about brevity, clarity, being concise, getting to the point. Up to this point in the workshop she’s quiet, for whatever reason she raises her hand, she decides she has a story to share. She shares with us how she lives in Dallas, she was in New York working, well as she was on the busy streets of New York trying to flag down a cab to head back to LaGuardia to fly home, she was on a call with a client. Cab pulls up, she hops in the cab, half way to LaGuardia she concludes the call with the client.

03:20 Stacey Hanke: When that happens Michael, the cab driver peers in the rear-view mirror, he asked her, “Can I give you feedback?” Now you can imagine if you’re sitting in the back seat of this cab and suddenly this stranger offers feedback, she shared with us before she could even make a decision yes or no, he continues to say to her, “I figure I will never see you again can I give you feedback?” She said she instantly went to this place of, “I had an ego at that point, I worked hard to be a partner what could this stranger possibly tell me?” He says to her Michael, “When you first got into my cab you looked like you have an important job but when I heard you on the phone I started to second guess what you do. You say um and uh often. It takes you a long time to get to the point and it was difficult to follow your conversation.” [chuckle]

04:12 Michael Port: Wow.

04:12 Stacey Hanke: She said all that happens as they reach LaGuardia, fortunate for her cab coach she cannot toss that fare over the cab seat fast enough, she can’t get out of that cab fast enough, she slammed the cab door. Next thing she knows she’s finding herself aggressively walking down the airport terminal when she said it hit her, where she realised, “Perhaps maybe my cab coach just shared with me what everyone is saying behind my back.” And several weeks after that experience with her she drops me an email and she says, “As tough as it was to hear that feedback, I have realized three months later that he, the cab driver, gave me feedback that has changed the way I speak for the better, to grab attention, to engage and connect with my listeners, and it has changed the way people respond.” Now I tie this back to my comment earlier, Michael, when I said, “I think a lot of individuals really believe they’re more influential than they really are.” If we are not seeing ourselves and hearing ourselves through the eyes and ears of our listeners consistently, we’re really basing and evaluating our communication on how we feel rather than on fact. And that was a big aha moment for her where it got unveiled and up to this point Michael she continuously as she continued to reach that level of partner, everyone around her was constantly saying to her, “Great job, you’re such a good communicator. Nice work.” Until the truth came out.

05:55 Michael Port: Fantastic. And what’s interesting to me is that on one had the cab driver said, “In person, you have a strong presence. You are an impressive person, but then when I heard you on the phone, it changed.” And one area of your expertise is virtual conversations, webinars, business meetings, and even podcasts, I believe.

06:19 Stacey Hanke: Correct.

06:20 Michael Port: So what can we do to be better communicators on those platforms, when we don’t have the ability to read somebody’s body language and look into their eyes?

06:32 Stacey Hanke: We need to treat every medium with the same amount of effort that we do when the stakes are high and you are face-to-face. We tend to hide behind the virtual piece and I hear people say it all the time, “I just did a virtual session for one of our clients and I said to the client, ‘The only way I’m going to agree to do it is everyone needs to turn on their webcam.'” Because I say to them, “We’re talking about how to be more influential over our virtual conversation, you have to turn on the webcam and you’ll eliminate over half, if not all of the challenges that we face when we can’t see each other.” We talk a lot in our business, Michael, that the way we define influence, the way I define influence is, influence is you have the ability to move someone to action consistently Monday to Monday.

07:24 Stacey Hanke: That how you show up every day of the week, no matter who you’re speaking to, no matter what medium it is, people always know what to expect. That being, you’re credible, you’re confident, you have this ability to move them to action. Therefore, no matter what medium it is, especially virtual, taking note that the stakes are still high, your name is still on it, how you communicate, how you behave, how you deliver during the virtual, needs to be very consistent with how you would behave if you had the live bodies, you had that face-to-face interaction.

08:01 Michael Port: What if you can’t get that video? What if you’re on a conference line, and there’s a number of different people, and sometimes it’s hard to pick up the timing or to manage the timing and you wanna get in there, but you miss your opportunity, and by the time that… You had the opportunity, the other person is past that point and you don’t have the same kind of synchronicity that you might have in person?

08:29 Stacey Hanke: That’s a big question with so many answers that I can give you, I’m going to break it down to three.

08:35 Michael Port: Great.

08:36 Stacey Hanke: Because I truly believe, Michael, how you show up and how you deliver the minute you begin, you’re setting your reputation out how you behave in these interactions. How we behave is how people respond therefore, if I am long-winded on a virtual call, takes me a long time to get to the point, I sound monotone, it’s me preaching and not interacting, I immediately am inviting and setting the stage that everyone on that call either talk over me or just don’t pay attention. Let’s break this down, three ideas, that there’d be three ideas to really think about the next virtual call that our listeners are managing or participating in. First and foremost, get up on your feet. There is something to be said about when you stand during these calls, you just have more energy, you’re putting that mindset of as if you’ve got live bodies in front of you, instead of hiding behind, “Well, they don’t see me anyway. The stakes are not that high.” We gotta change our mindset around that.

09:37 Stacey Hanke: Number two, it is even more critical that we speak in short bullet point sentences and we get to the point. Number three, make these calls, especially when you are facilitating them, Michael, make your virtual interactions as interactive as possible, within the first two minutes of hopping on that call, start asking open-ended questions. Some of my participants that I work with will say, “You’re telling us to call people out?” Well, you can call it what you want to call it, but think about what happens if we’re on a call, and I say, “Michael, I know you have a lot of experience with this client, share with the group what’s been your greatest value.” And the first person that you call out, suddenly everyone on the call is thinking, “Whoa, this is a little different when Michael facilitates a call, the reputation is, he’s going to make you work, you don’t even have time to check your email.” Again, it goes back to Michael, how we set up those calls, and how we deliver, how we sound, that those individuals feel like, “Wow, it still feels like she’s right there with me.”

10:49 Michael Port: I love it. Sometimes when I’m on a virtual meeting, or conference, especially with people that I work with a lot, somebody will be going over some of their items and they’ll often ask, “So is everyone clear?” Or something to that effect and they don’t get an answer.

11:12 Stacey Hanke: Yes.

11:13 Michael Port: Which is difficult, because, of course, they don’t know if… Whether or not people actually are clear, or are not and sometimes it’s just because people, when they’re on these group calls they don’t wanna be the one that is always talking, because they don’t want people to think that they’re trying to hog the call. But in a meeting, if you’re sitting around everyone would say, “Yes, I get it.” Or, “No, I have a question about.” So this is something… Do you suggest that people establish some frameworks or ground rules at the beginning of a meeting where it’s virtual, especially if you can’t see each other, about how to interact and how to take the floor or respond to people’s requests, etcetera?

12:01 Stacey Hanke: Yes. I call them rules of engagement that after I grab the attention 30 seconds of, “Here’s what your going to get, here’s what I expect from you, we’re gonna gain agreement.” Whatever it may be. Right after that, Michael, I’ll say to the group, “To honor your time or to value your time, to make sure this is worth your time.” You can phrase it however you want, “I am going to be interacting with you throughout, just giving you a heads up.” And if you think about that, you’re doing that within the first minute of the call, you’re immediately setting the stage. Now, after I set that rules of engagement, within two minutes of facilitating that call, I am already interacting with the group. Listen to the difference because you said if someone says to the group, “Do you have anything to add, do you have any questions?” It’s such a closed conversation that you’re really saying to them, “I’m just throwing it out there, you really don’t have to answer.” It’s about influential questioning. Listen to the difference, if I said to my group on a virtual call, “What are your thoughts around… ” you fill in the blank or, “What questions do you have around?” And then after you ask that question…

13:20 Michael Port: Oh we lost you there for a sec. Stacey?

13:25 Stacey Hanke: See, you see, you’re creating…

13:27 Michael Port: Stacey? Stacey?

13:31 Stacey Hanke: Yes.

13:31 Michael Port: We lost you there for a sec.

13:32 Stacey Hanke: Oh!

13:33 Michael Port: It’s okay.

13:34 Stacey Hanke: Good. [13:35] ____ rewind.

13:37 Michael Port: Just rewind to where you went into influential questions.

13:42 Stacey Hanke: Okay. I call it influential questioning, it’s how you’re setting up that question to influence the listener to respond. You’re creating that behavior that, “When Michael facilitates the call, I don’t even need to bother to bring my smart phone because I don’t even have time to catch up on email, he is going to interact.” I keep that behavior going throughout the call. Another way of doing it is or another option, say, it’s a 30 minute call, I don’t even want my team to listen to me talk for 30 minutes. I am constantly having them take portions of the call as well and that puts accountability on my team, they know that when they do our team calls that everyone has responsibility for the success of that call and the value that everyone receives. Taking a step back Michael, and really looking at how am I encouraging interaction, “Am I inviting it to be closed off or am I really inviting them that this is a safe environment, this is a call for all of us, it’s not about me telling you what to do or giving you all the information. You’re going to have to work for it.”

14:49 Michael Port: One of the things that I’ve noticed already in the first 12 minutes of this conversation, you’ve used my name a number of times. Is that something that you choose to do specifically, especially when you are in a virtual conversation? Do you think it makes a difference?

15:09 Stacey Hanke: I do, I really feel that it personalizes the conversation.

15:14 Michael Port: And I mentioned it because I think I would have noticed this if other guests had done the same thing consistently, but it really stood out for me because I heard it more from you, which I thought was great.

15:30 Stacey Hanke: I really do it… My style is I really always wanna have conversation with folks, Michael. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, whether it’s a keynote, a workshop, a virtual call, I really want to leave the conversation where someone says, “Wow! She’s really easy to talk to, she makes it so comfortable.” Because I know that that’s going to tie to trust which ties into continuously building a long-term relationship.

15:57 Michael Port: It’s fantastic. As you know, our mutual friend Neen James, she was on my podcast episode 70 in fact and she was a huge hit, huge hit. And she is so high energy, she just pops right out of the… Off the stage, through the microphone and you also were very high energy but with a different style than Neen. You’re high energy but yet you are clear, you follow through on your ideas, you move toward the end of the ideas, you put a button on them, you know how to use rhythm and pacing and tone, etcetera and I’m wondering what if some of our listeners feel that they’re not high energy people, especially because a lot of the guests that come on this show are professional performers of one kind or another and they tend to have high energy. So, a listener might distance themselves and say, “Well I’m not high energy like Stacey or Neen.” What can they do to boost their performance in one-on-one or small group interactions?

17:16 Stacey Hanke: You got it and I think that it’s not about… We don’t ever wanna change someone. That’s one of our goals is we want people be authentic, we wanna make sure though that everyone they interact with, their listeners always get the best of them. Make the best of your authenticity, having more energy it’s more about how can you have more impact? How can you connect and engage so that your listener wants to listen to you because your ideas are worth hearing, if they cannot hear you, there’s no way you can have influence on them. Go back to my earlier comment, a good way of bringing that impact and keeping your listener interested in what you’re talking about, get up on your feet, stand when you’re in that virtual conversation.

18:05 Stacey Hanke: Hey, you could even do it in a small meeting at a conference room where you feel that it’s two o’clock on a Friday afternoon and everyone is falling off the cliff, get up on your feet, ask them if it’s okay. I ask for permission to do it, no one has ever said, “No, we want you to sit down.” And another way to bring out more impact and interest to your words is gestures. Gestures get a bad rap on the street because too many people over the years have been told, “You talk with your hands, you gesture too much.” It is about gesturing with purpose, that’s a whole another topic, but if bringing your arms from your sides, the energy it takes to do that will also allow you to emphasize more words. Now when you play off of that, the benefit, the advantage of being on a virtual call and not being seen, you can be taking a lot of notes, really listening to the words, the key concepts that your listener keeps bringing up that obviously must be important to them, jot those words down in front of you so that when you can pepper using your listeners words throughout your message, add emphasis. I’m exaggerating it right now with my voice just for the listener to hear it, you add emphasis around the words that you really wanna emphasize.

19:22 Michael Port: Yeah, and emphasis often comes from intentionality as opposed to a disconnected focus on specifically emphasizing words based on what you think are operative, so it’s that kind of driving forward towards their goal with intention and a sense of urgency and importance and they’ll find the operative words, they’ll use their language. One of the things that we teach is speech and the importance of using the sounds of the words to connect emotionally with the listener. Because different words have different meanings and the sounds of the words influence the way people hear them, so for example, there’s a great difference between the word love and cut. So love is a word that has a lot of vibration in it, and that V if you allow that V to vibrate, it’s gonna make somebody feel differently. Whereas the word cut is very sharp just like the action of cutting something, so it’s gonna make someone feel different, and I think that builds on what you’re sharing here in terms of using the words to make a connection.

20:56 Michael Port: So I have two more questions for you. No, I have one more question for you, actually. Let’s make this the last one because I think it’s gonna give a lot of very actionable advice to the listener. Before we do that question, I wanna know where people can find you, how they can contact you if they wanna reach out or learn more about your area of expertise.

21:21 Stacey Hanke: Thank you for doing that, thanks for allowing me to share it. It’s simple to remember it’s my name on our website, so it’s S-T-A-C-E-Y H-A-N-K-E I-N-C dotcom. And on that website homepage, Michael, there is every possible social media icon that individuals want to get connected with me there, we send out resources, we never sell on social media but we definitely post resources, concepts, ideas that individuals can receive on a daily basis.

21:58 Michael Port: Fantastic, thank you for doing that. You have given the advice to audio tape yourself five times during one week. Why and what kind of results have you noticed from your clients?

22:15 Stacey Hanke: Awareness. Self-awareness is the very first step to reaching an influence Monday to Monday, because if we’re not aware of how we come across every day of the week, every conversation, there’s no way we can enhance our communication or change. Why I recommend audio and video, I recommend both because when you recommend just the audio, when you listen to the playback, Michael you can really dissect the tone or voices not talking about the impression that applies or lack there of, the word choice, do your words leverage influence? The video is also really important, and we have the technology that you easily can do it, where I’ll do it if I’m on a conference call with a client, I never record my client without their permission, I might have just have my iPad off to the side and I’ll record myself.

23:07 Stacey Hanke: If I’m in a meeting or if I’m just again at my desk having a conversation over the phone with a client I’ll also video record myself. When individuals can see on a regular basis through the eyes and ears of their listener to really see what’s going on and how they deliver, how their listeners experience them, how their messages come across, you will make a change. Without that we really base and evaluate our communication on the feeling rather than in fact and it’s proven that how we feel when we communicate or if we feel good, we feel confident and comfortable, we know the material, it’s easy. That does not guarantee we come across effective. And that’s a huge disconnect for individuals Michael, until they get a chance to see it.

24:00 Stacey Hanke: My clients sometimes it’s just seeing it once, they’ll see it once and they’ll say, “I had no idea. Why didn’t anyone tell me?” And I’ll share with them, “Well, feedback is flawed.” Usually when we ask for feedback it’s the comment of, “Good, nice job, sounds great.” But until, going back to the cab story, until you get a chance to see it and hear it it will really be difficult to continue to enhance your level of influence.

24:25 Michael Port: Yeah, we often hear that from our students who are speakers. They’ll say, “But everybody tells me I’m so good.” It’s not that you’re not good, that they’re trying to find something that they can share with you that’s positive and they also might not know how to give you the kind of feedback that would be helpful, so they don’t. Whereas in your story at the beginning, the cab driver actually had feedback that was helpful and felt that they could articulate it in a way that was helpful. But when it comes to performance elements the kind of things that we’re talking about here, most people who are not trained in these particular skills wouldn’t really know how to give you advice to improve your particular skills, so I think this is really helpful. Thank you so much I really appreciate your time and what you do and I love your voice, by the way. You’ve got a fantastic voice.

25:21 Stacey Hanke: Well, I was going to make the same comment of yours. You definitely have one of those radio voices. I am sure you’ve heard that feedback before.

25:27 Michael Port: Well, thank you. I actually, when I was an actor in my first career, voice overs was my bread and butter, that’s how I paid the rent. So in the ’90s when I was on the voice over circuit the regular guy voice became very popular before that it was the big announcer voice, and I don’t have a big announcer voice, I have the regular guy that says, “At Pizza Hut, you can do something different everyday.” And that was… So I did well, I did voice overs for… Do you remember, “1-800-CALL-ATT.”? Remember that one?

25:57 Stacey Hanke: Yes, now I really do.

25:58 Michael Port: Yeah? That was me. Braun and Coors Beer and it was fun, it was definitely fun.

26:04 Stacey Hanke: We have a little bit in common Michael, I started my career out in radio and I did voice over work, I did commercials. I wanted to be the next Katie Couric.

26:13 Michael Port: I bet you did.

26:14 Stacey Hanke: [26:14] ____ that did not happen. And I just threw in the towel very early because I was fresh out of college and I thought, “What the graveyard shift? I shouldn’t be on the graveyard shift.”

26:25 Michael Port: That’s so funny, I say the same thing I had too much ego to wait. I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it and wanted it fast. And that’s not always how those kinds of businesses work.

26:39 Stacey Hanke: It doesn’t.

26:40 Michael Port: It really taught me a great lesson that I adhere to now but… Who knows if we had stayed you might have been interviewing me on the Today Show about my new blockbuster movie that was coming out.

26:58 Stacey Hanke: Yeah, right. Well, I’ve gotta emphasize after even writing it in email to you, I truly have been following you from afar. It’s really a pleasure to meet you in person, have read your books, you’ve definitely given me a lot of information to help me grow my business. I thank you for that. I am… Because you’re also, you’re connected with Matt Church, correct?

27:20 Michael Port: Yeah, he’s a good friend. Fantastic guy.

27:22 Stacey Hanke: So Matt Church small world, I got introduced to him several years ago through Neen, have gone through several of Matt’s sessions which has totally… That’s when my business escalated after meeting with him about five, six years ago.

27:36 Michael Port: Oh, that’s great.

27:37 Stacey Hanke: Yeah, and them just saw Matt in New York the beginning of May, he happened to be there with Pete.

27:44 Michael Port: Oh, no kidding. Yeah, I actually talked to him and Pete recently they’re bringing their training to the states and so they wanted to get some feedback. And I just realized when you said Matt’s name I can’t believe I have not had Matt on the show yet. I’m gonna remedy that, right away.

28:00 Stacey Hanke: That you should definitely do. He’ll be a rock star. He’ll be a big one for you.

28:03 Michael Port: So again, thank you so much for being here.

28:05 Stacey Hanke: You’re welcome.

28:06 Michael Port: And everybody listen just keep thinking bigger about who you are and about what you offer the world. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you and bring my friends to serve you as well. We never take it for granted and if you like the show please rate and review, that means a lot to us and to our other listeners as well. So, thank you for that. Bye for now.