About Brenden Kumarasamy: Brenden Kumarasamy is the founder of MasterTalk; he coaches ambitious executives & entrepreneurs to become the top 1% of communicators in their industry. He also has a popular YouTube channel, MasterTalk, to provide free access to communication tools for everyone worldwide. From the ages of 5 to 16, not only was he scared of communication, like most of us, but he had to give presentations in a language He DIDN’T EVEN KNOW! How CRAZY is that? Only in university did he start refining his communication skills through case competitions. This experience helped Brenden start his YouTube & coaching business, MasterTalk. Check out the latest episode of our Conversational Selling podcast to learn more about Brenden.
In this episode, Nancy and Brenden discuss the following:
- Importance of communication in sales.
- Brenden’s unique way of practicing communication entertainingly.
- Overcoming challenges in public speaking.
- Entertaining communication practices: random word exercises, question drill exercises, and video message strategy.
- Dealing with imposter syndrome when posting his first video on YouTube.
- Essential elements of effective communication: smiling, pausing, vocal tone variety, pacing, and putting it all together.
- Body language mistakes.
- Communication is like juggling 18 balls at the same time.
- If you can make sense out of nonsense, you can make sense out of anything.
- Smile when you’re listening; don’t have a poker face.
- The point is to practice one medium of communication at a time.
“Yeah, for sure, Nancy. And the reason is that when you switch communication mediums, you don’t default back to zero but start pretty low. I’ll give you an example. Giving presentations is a completely different skill set than presenting on social media. When you’re presenting in front of an audience, there are 50 people in front of you. You can engage with them, you can hug them, you can give them a high five. When I first opened the camera and started presenting, there was nobody in front of me. So, I’m talking to a piece of metal. So, it was hard for me to bring the same energy and enthusiasm. And it was awkward the first time I started presenting on camera. That’s why I was nervous about it and got better over time. Like podcast casting, the first time I was on the show, I wondered why somebody would want to interview me. I was like a 22, 23-year-old kid who barely had a business. So yeah, I had a lot of imposter syndrome..” – BRENDEN.
“Most people are bad at smiling when speaking, especially when listening. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re on a sales call, and we see this all the time with terrible sales reps; when they’re listening to the prospect’s answers to their questions, they’re nodding their head but have a poker face on. So they go, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. So, what you’re telling indirectly is you’re telling the prospect, hey, I don’t care about your answer; I want to sell you on my product. Whereas if you do the same thing but you’re smiling, and you’re saying, mm, a lot less, the prospect feels seen, heard, and understood. So that’s one. ” – BRENDEN.
“So, pacing just means a lot of speech coaches will always say speak slower. That’s not always the right answer. And the reason is that if I’m slow, you get bored too. So, the key is to have the best speaker’s pace. So, if I’m talking and then I take a moment for you to pause and say, hey, what I’m about to say is key, notice that because I’m constantly changing my pace as I’m speaking, it’s just very subliminal. Most people aren’t noticing this because I’m not pointing it out until right now. Then you’re noticing that I’m paying attention to what Brenden says.” – BRENDEN.
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Voiceover: You’re listening to The Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.
Nancy Calabrese: Hi everyone, it’s Nancy Calabrese and it’s time again for Conversational Selling, the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today. And it always starts with the human conversation. Today we’re speaking with Brenden Kumarasamy, the founder of MasterTalk, a YouTube series dedicated to the art of public speaking. Brenden believes anyone can become a confident public speaker and storyteller. Brenden speaks about many topics relating to communication, such as presentation skills, storytelling, and speech breakdowns, explaining what separates the best speakers in the world from everyone else. His workshops focus on interactive activities between participants to practice communication tangibly and entertainingly and his private coaching program is personalized to each individual that he coaches. It is a pleasure to have you on the show, Brenden. Welcome.
Brenden Kumarasamy: Nancy the pleasure is mine. Thanks for having me on the show. [1:21]
Nancy Calabrese: Oh, so, you know, selling is all about communication, and having the right skills, you know, are important. And why is mastering these skills so important, especially in sales?
Brenden Kumarasamy: Yeah, absolutely, Nancy. You know, for me, in the context of sales, the reason why communication is so vital is that at the end of the day, every sales transaction, whether it’s on the B2B side, business to business, or B2C side, directly to the consumer, it’s always involving people. And if you don’t know how to talk to people, you don’t know how to have conversations with them, you don’t know how to build rapport with them by asking the right questions, at the end of the day, you will not get the sales results that you want. That’s one side. The other side of the equation is the communication. Even if you’re seeing the right things, Nancy, if somebody’s asking you questions about your core product and you’re going, uh, you know, I’m not really, and your eyes are all over the place and you’re not looking at the person directly, doesn’t matter how smart you are, you’ll lose credibility on the spot. [2:23]
Nancy Calabrese: Right. Yeah, wow. But how do you practice communication entertainingly?
Brenden Kumarasamy: Ah, I love the last word that you used, Nancy, right? Which is entertainingly. That’s what I found one of the big challenges with MySpace when I entered it a few years ago. This is a lot of communication training being frankly super boring, right? It’s always focused on, you know, the fear and how we’re all going to die if we don’t master speaking and all that stuff, which is not the energy I like to share. So, to make things fun, the way I think about it is to communicate, and simple, communication is like juggling 18 balls at the same time. So, one of those balls is body language, one of them is storytelling, one of them is facial expressions, et cetera. So, for me, the question has always been, what are the three easiest balls to juggle? Because if we can do that, we can master the art of communication. Let me give you the first one, I’ll throw it back to you. The random word exercises. Pick any word, like phone, like Jaguar, like a headset, like a light bulb, and create 60-second presentations out of thin air. And if you do that, you’ll get a lot more comfortable with uncertainty. [3:28]
Nancy Calabrese: Okay, cool. Are you asking me to pick a word?
Brenden Kumarasamy: I mean, I’m happy to do it, but that’s the first exercise.
Nancy Calabrese: No, I’ll skip. You go the second exercise.
Brenden Kumarasamy: Sounds good, Nancy. So just the benefits of the random word access for people in sales is this serves two main purposes and we can go to exercise two. The first purpose is if you can make sense out of nonsense, you can make sense out of anything. So, if you can talk about hemp seeds and avocado toast and light bulbs, it has absolutely nothing to do with your industry. When you go back to your subject matter expertise often the best sales reps are selling the same product day in, day out. You just get so good at it that it’s easy for you to talk about it. The second purpose is you get good at small talk. What is small talk at the end of the day? It’s two people having a random conversation with questions that each person did not prepare for. So, if you can talk about random topics when you go back to small talk, you can make sense of the nonsense that’s happening. So that’s the question, that’s exercise one. Exercise two, I’m sure was talked about on this podcast in the previous, I just frame it a little differently. It’s called the question drill. So, we get asked questions all the time in our life, Nancy. At school, at work, on sales calls, but most of us suck at answering these questions. A few years ago, I remember when I first started guesting on podcasts, some guy asked me: “Hey, Brendan, where does the fear of communication come from?” I was like: “I don’t know, man. Brazil? Los Angeles? You tell me”. So how did I fix this, Nancy? Every single day for five minutes, I answered one question that I thought somebody would ask about my products, my services, or my expertise. So, day one was, what tips do you have for introverts? Day two is, what tips can we work on every day? Day three is, what’s your vision for a master talk? But if you do that once a day for five minutes for a year, Nancy, you’ll have answered 300 and 65 questions about your expertise, and you’ll be bulletproof. [5:39]
Nancy Calabrese: Wow. Do you still do it?
Brenden Kumarasamy: I’m doing it right now actually. Right? So, this is what the question drill is. It’s just, it’s a lot easier for me to practice because you’re asking me questions that I didn’t look at and I’m answering them. So, I’m practicing the question drill. But for somebody who can’t get on podcasts, the advice is more listen to your top five customers, list out all the questions that they ask you about the product, and use them as resources to help you sell future versions of themselves. [6:07]
Nancy Calabrese: I love it. Good. Right. Now we have the third or is that the third?
Brenden Kumarasamy: Yep. Yeah, you got it, Nancy. So, let’s go to number three. So, number three is so simple, nobody does it. And I’m sure this was mentioned on previous podcasts, but I’ll give a little different spin to it, which is the video message, right? So, send video messages to either prospect, but more importantly, which I think is a big mistake. Most sales reps make is send video messages to your existing customers. You know, it’s a lot easier to get word of mouth than to sell a customer cold on who you are, your reputation, your brand, and the product that you’re selling. I use something unique that I think only one other person besides me does, so I’m happy to share it, which is called the birthday video message. So, what I do is my Google calendar tells me whose birthday it is today, whether it’s a business partner, a client, a close relationship of mine, or a JV partner, and on their birthday, I’ll put a stupid $15 head that I bought on Amazon that it’s like a birthday head. And then I just open my camera and I go; guess whose birthday it is today? It’s yours. I hope you have a wonderful day. And I say one thing I appreciate about them, but I do this like 200 times a year, 150 times a year. And that’s brought me more business than anything that I’ve done in my life. [7:27]
Nancy Calabrese: Ha ha ha. Wow. How do you collect everybody’s birthdays? Do you just ask them?
Brenden Kumarasamy: Yeah, you got it. I just asked them. But I want to make sure I’m clear with the strategy. I don’t do this with prospects. I do this with people who have already bought into me. So, I’ll give you an example. Let’s say we’re a part of JVMM, right? We’re a part of a mastermind group together. So, like I probably had 30, 40 coffees with people in that group. I was in it for like a year, a year and change and then I picked the top five people, the top three people that I was like, oh my God, like this person’s amazing. We talk all the time. We build a close relationship. So those people, I’ll ask them what their birthdays are, and then I’ll do that with existing clients. I’ll do that with different people. So that way I’m only sending video messages to people I already have a relationship with. So, it’s easy to collect the birthday. [8:14]
Nancy Calabrese: Got it. Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. So, you wrote on your website that despite all the presentations you’ve given over your life, you were scared to post your first YouTube video. How could that be?
Brenden Kumarasamy: Yeah, for sure, Nancy. And the reason is that when you switch mediums of communication, you don’t default back to zero, but you start pretty low. I’ll give you an example. Giving presentations is a completely different skill set than presenting on social media. And I’ll tell you why. Because when you’re presenting in an audience, there are 50 people in front of you. You can engage with them, you can hug them, you can give them a high five.
Nancy Calabrese: Okay. Yeah.
Brenden Kumarasamy: Whereas when I first opened the camera and I started presenting, there was nobody in front of me. So, I’m talking to a piece of metal. So, it was hard for me to bring the same level of energy and enthusiasm. And it was awkward the first time I started presenting on camera. That’s why I was nervous about it and I got better over time. Like podcast casting, the first time I was on the show, I was like, why would somebody want to interview me? I was like a 20 at the time anyways I was like a 22, 23-year-old kid who barely had a business. So yeah, I had a lot of imposter syndrome. [9:32]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, well, I mean, that happens to all of us. Don’t go back and listen to my first or second podcast. You don’t want to hear it. But now that I’m over 100, I mean, it just comes more naturally. So, the lesson learned is practice, right?
Brenden Kumarasamy: Absolutely. And the only add-on to that point is to practice one medium of communication at a time. So, for example, the reason why you’re a lot better at interviewing than you were in the past, Nancy, is because you practice the same medium a hundred times, which in your case was hosting a hundred podcast episodes. So, for somebody listening, it doesn’t even have to be a podcast. It could be today I’m going to commit to doing a hundred random word exercises five times a day for the next three weeks, or it’s a hundred question drills or it’s one video message every single day or every few days. So, if you just commit to one specific tip at high volume, that’s where you start to see the results. [10:28]
Nancy Calabrese: Right. Cool. You have a video, Five Public Speaking Tips. Tell us what those five are.
Brenden Kumarasamy: Yeah, absolutely, Nancy. So, I’ve changed them over the years. So, I’ll give you what is now called the five levels of speech. So, the five levels of speech, which go back to your point about the five tips are what I refer to as balls four to nine. So, going back to that 18-ball analogy, right? So, the first three balls are, excuse me, the random word exercise, and the questions on the video message. But most people I’d say I still haven’t met anybody yet. Let’s see who has done those three exercises consistently, even for 30 days. So, my ask is unless they’re clients that I’m chirping at them like a personal trainer would. But if you don’t have that, I’ve found most people don’t do it, there are always exceptions. So, what I’ll encourage people to do, the reason I tell you that is my big ask for everyone listening to this podcast is to book 15 minutes in your calendar every single day just to do these exercises. If you just do this and you don’t listen to anything else I say today, you’ll get 80% of the value from this show. But in terms of your follow-up question around the next five things, assuming you do the first three consistently enough, the five balls are smiling, pausing, vocal tone variety, pacing, and putting it all together. So, let’s go through this. One is smiling. Most people are bad at smiling when they’re speaking especially when listening. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re on a sales call and we see this all the time with really bad sales reps, is when they’re listening to the prospect’s answers to their questions, they’re nodding their head, but they have a poker face on. So they go, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. So, what you’re telling indirectly is you’re telling the prospect, hey, I don’t care about your answer, I just want to sell you on my product. Whereas if you do the same thing but you’re smiling and you’re saying, mm, a lot less, the prospect feels seen, heard, and understood. So that’s one. [12:29]
Nancy Calabrese: Well, that’s interesting. I just want to jump in because I have a tendency when I listen, I get very serious, and I must make a deliberate effort to smile because my natural listening mode is serious. So, it’s very interesting. You brought that up.
Brenden Kumarasamy: Please. Oh, absolutely, Nancy. And the reason, and I’m glad that resonated with you because most people struggle with that. Because let’s say we’re a sales rep, we have 10 sales calls in a row. So, we’re super, super serious on the call when we’re forgetting that we’re selling to a human being. So, it’s important for us to kind of shift out of that mode and focus on building a personal relationship rather than closing a deal. Because if you build a relationship, it doesn’t matter if you close the deal, because you’ll get introduced to someone who will close. So that’s the first piece. The second one’s pausing, right? So, pausing just means knowing how to take a beat. If you keep rambling, rambling about your products and services on sales calls, eventually people tune out. But if I’m on a call and I say, hey, there are three important things you have to keep in mind with this service, the first one is, that you’re paying attention to what I’m saying because I’m pausing effectively. Number three is your tones. So, the trick here, especially when selling is you always want to speak at a, not, but most of the time you always want to speak at a tone that’s slightly lower than the prospects. So, if the person’s loud, you could also match that just to show that you’re in the same realm as them. But if someone’s really, quiet when they’re speaking, especially a lot of the people I get on calls with, because I’m a communication guy, so most of my clients are introverts. If I’m talking like this on a sales call, they’re going to run away from that call. [14:21]
Nancy Calabrese: Right, right. Well, it’s a matching and mirroring, right? It’s about matching the tone of the other prospect.
Brenden Kumarasamy: Absolutely, Nancy. And then in the context of presentations, it’s a little different. It’s more about the best speakers in the world who know how to vary their tones. So, notice how when I’m speaking, I’m always changing the volume of when I share ideas on a podcast. So, it keeps my voice engaging and enticing enough to listen to. So that’s the third piece. Absolutely. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. The fourth one is pacing.
Nancy Calabrese: Huh, very interesting. What else?
Brenden Kumarasamy: So, pacing just means a lot of speech coaches will always say speak slower. That’s not always the right answer. And the reason is because if I’m slow all the time, you get bored too. So, the key is, is the best speaker’s very pace. So, if I’m talking and then I take a moment for you to pause and say, hey, what I’m about to say is key notice that because I’m changing my pace all the time as I’m speaking, it’s just very subliminal. Most people aren’t noticing this because I’m not pointing it out until right now. Then you’re noticing that, oh wow, I’m paying attention to what Brenden says. And then finally, number five is just putting it all together. That just means, can you do all of these different little techniques simultaneously? And the only way to do this at the same time is to practice your weaknesses. [15:48]
Nancy Calabrese: Okay, I want to go back to something that you said, and you recommend that you speak in a lower tone than the prospect, or you lower your tonality. Did I get that right?
Brenden Kumarasamy: That’s correct, but I always want to point out advice like this is always contextual to the prospect, but I would say in general, especially when you’re speaking to somebody who’s quieter and relatively introverted, you want to speak at a ton lower than theirs, just by a slight margin. [16:18]
Nancy Calabrese: Okay, cool. Body language mistakes. What are some of them?
Brenden Kumarasamy: for sure, Nancy. So, what I always like to say with body language is to your point, people should focus more on what not to do versus what to do because most people don’t make that big of a mistake when it comes to body language. I would say the ones, there’s a couple, but I would say the most common ones is one we already talked about, which is when we’re listening to someone we don’t smile. That’s the biggest body language mistake in my book. The second one is probably not moving your arms around a little bit so you can go to either extreme which is wrong, which is either the hand freeze where you stick your hands to your body the entire time or you put them in your pockets which I don’t like at all, or you do the other side which is the hand ninja where you’re always moving your hands. So, the key is just to find a balance, do it every few moments, and sprinkle it like one would a seasoning on a steak, it’s the same thing here, it’s just a little bit that you want to add. Those are probably the main two. If I had to give a third one, which most people don’t make as a mistake, honestly, it would probably be pointing. So, with your palms, Alan Peace talks a lot about this. So, what you do is a lot of people point with their fingers and it’s hard to do on audio, but you get what I mean. Like I’m pointing at you directly versus it’s very aggressive if you’re pointing at people. So instead, you want to either use your open palms or move your finger half-point so that you’re pointing only half of your finger towards them. [17:51]
Nancy Calabrese: Interesting. Another tip that resonated with me because when I’m in meetings, I usually keep my hands on my lap. Now that I’m aware, you guys can’t see us, but I’m using my hands right now in speaking with you. Great points.
Brenden Kumarasamy: Ha!
Nancy Calabrese: Let’s wrap it up. Three daily public speaking exercises. What would they be?
Brenden Kumarasamy: Absolutely, Nancy. So the three are, just to recap, number one, the random word exercise. Invest five minutes a day to do the exercise five times a day. Pick five words, avocado, toast, chaya seeds, headphones, and just create presentations out of thin air. The easiest way to do this, if you can’t afford a coach, is to do this with your children, do this in the shower, do this when you’re walking your dog in the evening. Those are the easiest ways I found to hold people accountable. Exercise number two, the question drill. Very simple. All you have to do is on all of your sales calls this week, record them and either write down all the questions you got asked or get a VA to listen through the calls or use an OctaOtter.ai thing and just transcribe it. Get all the questions and every single day for five minutes just answer one of those questions. And if you just do that, I guarantee your sales results will improve dramatically. Because you’ll just be so good at answering questions that people will perceive you as a subject matter expert, not a sales rep. So that’s number two. And number three is the video message. Just pick five to ten people that you love in your life. Add their birthdays on your calendar and when it’s their birthday, send them a video message. But I would encourage you not to wait either like pick two, or three people now and just send them video messages just to show them how much you care about them, and when it’s their birthday, send them something else. [19:54]
Nancy Calabrese: Love it. I love it. How can my people find you?
Brenden Kumarasamy: Absolutely, Nancy. Such a pleasure to be on the show. Thanks for having me. So, two ways to keep in touch. The first one is the YouTube channel. Just type master talk in one word and you’ll have access to hundreds of free videos on how to speak and communicate ideas for free. And the second way to keep in touch is to attend my free training on communication. I do a free live Zoom call every two weeks for the community. Everyone’s invited. You could be an eight-year-old kid. You could be an executive of a billion-dollar company. Everyone’s invited. So, if you want to come to that go to rockstarcommunicator.com.
Nancy Calabrese: Rock star, everybody hears that. A huge thank you for being on the show. I mean, I gained a couple of good nuggets and I’m sure everyone out there has done the same. I encourage you to take advantage of Brendan’s offer and watch him on YouTube. By the way, you have a great voice too, Brenden. I’m into voices. So, you know how to use it. And for all of you folks out there, make it a great sales day. [21:00]