Speechless – Tell Stories that Change the World

Bonus: Getting started in storytelling

January 08, 2024 Maryam Pasha & Simon Bucknall Season 1 Episode 12
Speechless – Tell Stories that Change the World
Bonus: Getting started in storytelling
Show Notes Transcript

Public speaking has negative connotations for so many people - especially younger people. But what are the opportunities? How can we cultivate a more positive environment? A more empowering experience for people just getting started? Tune into this live storytelling masterclass with Speechless co-hosts Maryam Pasha and Simon Bucknall and guest host Zain Hussain. Learn how to get started, how to ignite the storytelling spark within yourself. In this episode, you’ll learn how to support young people in public speaking, why you already have the tools and materials you need to get started with storytelling today, and which platforms are scaling oracy globally. Recorded live at the English Speaking Union in London, UK.

Speechless, Getting Started in Storytelling.

[00:00:00] Simon Bucknall: This is Speechless, the podcast for people who want to learn how to tell impactful stories that can change the world. Presented by storytelling experts, Maryam Pasha and me, Simon Bucknall.

[00:00:19] Zain Hussain: Hello everyone and welcome to a live edition of the Speechless podcast. This is a podcast about telling stories that change the world. And to the listeners back home, I'm here at Dartmouth [00:00:30] house, the headquarters of the English speaking union. Uh, my name is Zain Hussain. I'm a guest host for the podcast today.

[00:00:34] Zain Hussain: I'm here with Simon Bucknall and Maryam Pasha. And I guess today we're at the headquarters of the English speaking union, which is a charity that is about helping young people have the skills to thrive through oracy, communication, and also just about international friendship as well. That's another big part of it.

[00:00:50] Zain Hussain: And. For me, the English speaking union played a big part in my journey to public speaking. And I want to begin by talking to everyone about how all of us got into [00:01:00] public speaking. For me, it was when I was a child, I think it was my biggest fear. I would not even put up my hand up to go to say, Miss, can I go to the bathroom?

[00:01:07] Zain Hussain: I was that scared. But it was something that I always found. Quite interesting. I loved watching debates from a distance until one day I snuck into the debate club and, uh, kind of slightly got better and better. I then got involved with the English speaking union where I learned more about debate and that led me to my sort of ultimate career.

[00:01:23] Zain Hussain: I trained as a barrister. I've worked as an actor now as an entrepreneur, three careers that have storytelling at the core of what they, [00:01:30] what they are. And that's my story so far, but I. Curious to hear Simon and Maryam, where did public speaking and storytelling first enter your 

[00:01:36] Simon Bucknall: life? Well for me the first time I ever spoke in public outside of school I did a tiny bit of debating at school, but not much Uh, but but it was a it was an english speaking union competition and I was this was it was in November I was my birthday, 25th of November, 1993.

[00:01:52] Simon Bucknall: How's that for detail? And, and there was, uh, it was the now Churchill ESU, Churchill public speaking competition. [00:02:00] And, uh, in which I prepared a speech and there was a host and there was a questionnaire. It's a team based competition. And I remember, yeah, it was the first opportunity to go and speak alongside, uh, four or five other local schools near where I grew up in the, in the Midlands near Birmingham.

[00:02:13] Simon Bucknall: And yeah, I never would thought back then that, uh, fast forward, let me think, seven, 20, 30 years, I'd be a professional speaker. You know, funny how these things turn out, but, but I think that's, that's one of the really, I think, um, uh, one of the key themes when thinking about young people and, and, and public speaking [00:02:30] is, is the, uh, you know, it's the.

[00:02:33] Simon Bucknall: Is the, is the value of early experiences. They can really shape you in ways that you can never really predict. Um, and, and of course you hope that those experiences be positive. Unfortunately, sometimes they're not so positive. And I doubt I'm the only person in the room to have had experiences at school where public speaking was more like a punishment, right?

[00:02:50] Simon Bucknall: Come on, what are you talking about? Come on up to the front, share the joke with everyone. You know, that kind of thing. It's a, it's a, sometimes can be quite unfortunate and negative an experience. And so. [00:03:00] positive experience of speaking under pressure or public speaking are to be treasured, I think. 

[00:03:05] Maryam Pasha: Um, interesting.

[00:03:07] Maryam Pasha: I, you know, because I did half of my studies here and half of my studies in the US. So, interestingly that I found that when I was here, and I was here until I was about 13, speaking was like not something that you did. You know, it was very, I went to a grammar school, you stood up when the teacher came to class.

[00:03:25] Maryam Pasha: I can't remember a single opportunity to speak. And just [00:03:30] moving to New York and going to a totally different educational system. It wasn't that you were encouraged to speak formally, but you were definitely encouraged to speak informally. And I remember being very cool and joining model Congress as all the cool kids do.

[00:03:48] Maryam Pasha: I'm in good company here. Um, and I think what happened is that I, it kind of mirrored my home life a bit because I think that at home, my parents, I always remember there being [00:04:00] discussions, like political discussions at home. And even when I was really young with, you know, my parents and their friends, and they would ask me what I thought.

[00:04:07] Maryam Pasha: And so I had this ability to like, start formulating my thoughts. And then so going into doing model Congress and then later model UN, um, Again, just created these opportunities that more formal opportunities to speak, but I wasn't necessarily super comfortable with it either. It's, I feel sometimes a kind of oddness that this is what I do [00:04:30] now feeling so comfortable in front of people, because I don't think that I would have thought that that would have been the case either.

[00:04:36] Maryam Pasha: Um, growing up, I definitely didn't feel. Even having the opportunities, I definitely didn't feel that I had that voice that I actually see so many young people having now. 

[00:04:49] Simon Bucknall: And that point about the informal opportunities is really interesting because so often there's a recurring debate in terms of speaking skills about is it natural talent or is it a skill?

[00:04:57] Simon Bucknall: And even now still I have people who say, some people are [00:05:00] just really good at it. They're just naturals. They're just, they're just gifted. They're just a, they're just a naturally inspiring speaker and all this twaddle, which is not to be disrespectful of people's natural gifts, but what I, but what I, but what I mean is But, but, but it's actually the people that are, that appear to be naturally gifted, chances are somewhere they'll have had lots of practice, at least in my experience, often through early life experiences.

[00:05:20] Simon Bucknall: And you were describing, I say, in home life, for example, being encouraged to speak, to share ideas around the dinner table, or it's, uh, you know, it's within the community or it's perhaps within school, being in environments where you get the chance [00:05:30] to, to practice, to try stuff out. You may not realize. that you are practicing, but so often people then develop confidence, build confidence and skills without necessarily realizing it.

[00:05:38] Simon Bucknall: Just like I find it if I think about learning my, my, my native language being English, I don't, I don't really have very strong memories of being. Taught how to speak English. It's just part of me. It's just grown up and it's the same as true with anyone with their native language. And so I wonder sometimes whether the apparent natural talent that [00:06:00] people appear to have, they may not even realize actually how much of it is down to lots of practice and developing skills over time, I think.

[00:06:07] Simon Bucknall: And you 

[00:06:08] Maryam Pasha: know, there's something also you said about not always having positive experiences. I have this with writing. So when I was about in year 10, so whatever you are there, 14, 15, it was my first time writing a real paper, you know, like, not like a short essay, but like a 10 page paper. And it was on the Russian agrarian revolution and it was for like an ad, I know, very interesting.

[00:06:29] Maryam Pasha: It was [00:06:30] mainstream. Yeah. It was like an advanced. European history class. I was super nervous about it. And I had some friends who were a year older. And so I said to one of them, like, would you mind reading this and giving me some feedback on it? And he called me, I remember, and said, this is the worst thing I have ever read.

[00:06:48] Maryam Pasha: You should never write again. So, and now what? 25 years later, I don't write. I like was like, right, okay, no more writing. [00:07:00] And so I just avoided writing from that point as much as possible. It was like the bare minimum to get by. And I think that people have similar experiences when it comes to speaking, whereas they hear someone says something that is like, you know, like a stupid 16 year old said that to me, like, what amazing opinion does he have?

[00:07:17] Maryam Pasha: But that was it. It was like, and it just cuts you off. So I think that there's also this, this like. Early, little early wounds can actually be quite, can be quite taken to [00:07:30] heart if you don't undo them. Yeah, 

[00:07:31] Zain Hussain: absolutely, absolutely. And, uh, it is interesting to talk a lot about early experiences and how they shape us.

[00:07:37] Zain Hussain: You mentioned the writing thing. Are there similarities you find that people, young people go through now or maybe did when you were in school that are so common and shape them? to have a negative association with public speaking. You mentioned the punishment from, from me. I remember it's like no one wanted to do presentations about boring topics that became the association.

[00:07:59] Zain Hussain: Is there anything [00:08:00] more that used to exist or still exists now? 

[00:08:04] Simon Bucknall: What I think on the speaking side is this, that Typically, and I'm generalizing, but, but, in, in schools, and certainly my experience at school, is that those that, the opportunities for formal public speaking, whether it was literally giving a speech or whether it was participating in a debate, were frankly pretty limited.

[00:08:20] Simon Bucknall: They were there, but they were limited. In some schools it's more widespread than others, but, but by and large, it's something where it's a fairly narrow range of opportunities to do it. And those that put [00:08:30] themselves forward are usually those that, for whatever reason, are more confident or just willing to give it a go.

[00:08:34] Simon Bucknall: They get identified as being, quote unquote, more confident or naturally gifted or whatever it is. And understandably, then, effort gets channeled into supporting the development of that individual or that team, you know, the debate team or whatever it is. And so, well intentioned effort gets channeled into supporting a relatively small number of people.

[00:08:49] Simon Bucknall: And, of course, it's great to provide the support for those people. However, um, if, for a larger Generally, it's a larger number of people who find it difficult when they first stand [00:09:00] up to speak in public or stand up in front of their class. It's not uncommon to feel quite self conscious and people feel especially if they're just starting out early days at school, they're gonna begin nervous and lose their way and not quite sure and they read or whatever.

[00:09:10] Simon Bucknall: And so And so then, in order for those people to progress, it takes quite a lot of input to really help, to reassure, to provide advice, to provide feedback in the right way, there's a lot that goes into, uh, helping somebody work through, if they've not had much of a of a backstory of speaking [00:09:30] their mind, speaking openly, quote unquote, under pressure, then it takes quite a lot of work.

[00:09:33] Simon Bucknall: And I know this from my own experience with the Jack Petchy Speak Out Challenge, for example, which is the, to my knowledge, if not the largest youth public speaking competition in terms of volume of people within London and the southeast. It's a very, very big public speaking competition. Um, and with that, that involved running workshops with groups of 30 teenagers in schools all over London, about 400 plus schools.

[00:09:55] Simon Bucknall: And of course, literal complete cross section of children. And I can remember, yeah, there were some [00:10:00] children that were really up for it, really, you know, confident and willing to have a crack. And there were some that absolutely petrified. A lot could happen in a day, but I thought chances are outside of the context of that day.

[00:10:12] Simon Bucknall: Their default will be, stay quiet, why take the risk? And it, and it does take a lot of resource, whether it's from parents, or from friends, or from teachers, or whatever, in order to help someone through that, that often instinctive shyness or nervousness. And, and if it's not there, It's easier just to stay [00:10:30] silent, to stay quiet.

[00:10:31] Simon Bucknall: Or of course, Maryam, as you mentioned, if somebody gets a negative pushback, they get laughed at, they get teased, they get told, Oh, well, you're just, you're just, you're just not a speaker really. Yeah. Then of course that becomes, that becomes deep or can be deeply damaging. Um, and, and, and I think in my own work, what I've come to realize over the last now, is it 15 years of working with people on this stuff full time, including folk in schools, but also a lot with adults in the workplace, the number of I'm working with people who are seriously capable, seriously smart.

[00:10:58] Simon Bucknall: I've got real ability, [00:11:00] but have got massive hurdles to overcome into well, I just, I just, I just stay quiet. I mean, it's just usually easy just to, just to, you know, I don't really put myself forward because why take the risk, you know, and that's in adulthood, I think, and it comes back usually to experiences from childhood.

[00:11:17] Maryam Pasha: So I have two thoughts on this, a very different one, just to pick up on what you were saying, you know, this idea of the feedback you get. So, you know, when I'm working with clients or running workshops, I do this whole thing on how to give good feedback because actually [00:11:30] most people get crap feedback about speaking from their colleagues and the people around them because people just don't know how to do it and it's so off putting.

[00:11:39] Maryam Pasha: And so actually, to create an environment that's conducive to help someone improve, you know, we were, we just had a TEDxLondon event two weeks ago, and one of our speakers, who's this academic, we were going, we were in like, I think second or third rounds of rehearsals with her, where we do these group rehearsals where The speaker speaks and we have some of our team there and [00:12:00] we give feedback.

[00:12:00] Maryam Pasha: And she said to us, I don't know if it was, she said to us, I have just never been so supported in the kinds of feedback I've ever received. Like if I think about the academic world that I, you know, she's a professor I've been in. It's the opposite of this, like this environment makes me feel like I can keep developing and keep moving and I just don't know why it's not always like this and it just strikes me that when you are in companies and I'm in organizations and there is this, if you ask people, especially sometimes [00:12:30] privately, like, have you been, have you gotten comments?

[00:12:34] Maryam Pasha: At some point in your career, most likely either at home or in work, they've gotten something that shut them up, right? And so actually undoing that becomes some part, like, a lot of my work is like undoing the crap that other people have said to someone that isn't true, that is just their opinion, and an uninformed opinion.

[00:12:54] Maryam Pasha: But the other thing I was going to say about young people now is, I would say this, I think that [00:13:00] young people now, and when I'm talking young people, I'm thinking, some of the people I get to work with who are like 25 and under. Um, so, you know, and, and like sometimes 16, 17, 18, I think they have stopped waiting for permission.

[00:13:12] Maryam Pasha: I mean, this is, they do, they're doing this across the board on everything, but this is the same thing when it comes to speaking. They are not waiting for their schools to do it or their curriculum or their parents or any of us who are not old. They just pick up the phone and they're speaking. I mean, you know, we don't think about it as like, Highbrow maybe, but [00:13:30] what is all of this great content on TikTok or an Instagram, if not people finding ways to create compelling stories into the camera that millions of other people want to watch?

[00:13:40] Maryam Pasha: And, you know, I work with a lot of young climate communicators, um, and young climate activists. You know, these are people who no one taught them how to do this. And they have just really cut their teeth out there. You know, they're like, some of them are like 22, 23, and they're seen as like veterans now in the climate movement, because they've been out there on the [00:14:00] news being ripped apart by, you know, whatever it might be in the press.

[00:14:04] Maryam Pasha: And they've just, they're just not waiting for the permission. So I think there's something there also. So that I think those of us who are above the 25 age gap can also look at and think, are we just, have we just been waiting for someone to allow us to do this? And should we just do it if we want to do it?

[00:14:21] Zain Hussain: Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, the difference there is there isn't even a room. It's just a camera and imagining the audience, they have the optimism of who they'll be reaching. [00:14:30] And I wonder if that influences how they approach it. We spoke about early experiences and how important they are. And I guess the question I have is.

[00:14:38] Zain Hussain: If either of you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the culture of young people right now and for the future to, you know, get rid of these things, what would it be? How would you, how would you change the 

[00:14:52] Simon Bucknall: culture entirely amongst young people? Yeah, I think the thought that comes to my mind is not a change the culture so much as if, if If, if, [00:15:00] if I could offer or kind of magically make, uh, available one, one idea for young people, and it's something that features a lot in the work that I've done when working with, with young people over the years, including in the days when I was young, younger, uh, then it would be this to, uh, to, to see the value in your own.

[00:15:20] Simon Bucknall: Personal experience, your own life experience, uh, even if you feel like you are still very young, and you did that, which I don't mean that to sound patronizing, but, uh, but I meet [00:15:30] with, I meet with grown adults who underestimate the true value of their own personal experience, and no one will be interested in that.

[00:15:35] Simon Bucknall: Why should anyone care about that? No, that said, that was, oh, that was years ago. That was whatever. And, and of course, with, with young people, when they latch onto experiences and have, and then either just. strike out and communicate it or provide an opportunity to do it, to do it. The challenge is that so often we're very poor judges of the value of our own experience because as soon as we've had an experience we forget what it's like to not have had it.

[00:15:56] Simon Bucknall: And, and especially for younger people who are saying, nice of the barriers as you say Maryam about, [00:16:00] you know, the, the kind of the, the kind of the The, the, the baggage of quote unquote, the adult world, the working world, the more senior people, the whatever it is, it's very easy if young people think, all right, well, yes, I need to wait until I've got this much experience before I might have something worth, worth sharing and actually no, there's gold and it's striking to me how often, myself included, how often you see adults when given the opportunity to it.

[00:16:21] Simon Bucknall: to, to tell, to share stories that are meaningful for them, to seek to inspire audiences, draw on experiences from their childhood. [00:16:30] Some of the speeches that have been most transformative for me as both a listener and as a speaker come relate to childhood experiences. In fact, the story that, or the speech that if you like, put me quote unquote on the map in the public speaking club world in this country, uh, through Toastmasters International was a contest speech telling the story, a story from when I was eight.

[00:16:52] Simon Bucknall: A story I had never shared until, uh, the months building up to, to that competition through my speaking club because of a supportive [00:17:00] environment, because I had a mentor that said, Simon, this is good stuff. You need to develop this and so on. And I think, wow, you know, it's those early experiences that really shape us.

[00:17:07] Simon Bucknall: That becomes more obvious when we're adults, but I think, well, why wait? You know, as a child, as a young person, you know, and we, and we see this amazing stories. 

[00:17:16] Maryam Pasha: I mean, we, um, pre pandemic at TEDxLondon, we ran a program called OpenX, which was a young person speaking program. So we found that, you know, one of the things is that young people do have great ideas and great [00:17:30] stories, but it's often hard to find them.

[00:17:33] Maryam Pasha: You know, except for the few that do have the social media following or whatever it might be. And, you know, those people don't need our platform. So we were trying to find young people with great stories and ideas who did need, like, the TEDx platform. And so we did this amazing competition. You know, and we had, and it was London wide.

[00:17:48] Maryam Pasha: We had, like, in year two, I think, we had, like, 400 entries of young people who had something to say and wanted the support to say it. You know, and it was incredible. You know, that some of our [00:18:00] best speakers at TEDxLondon over the years have And it's, it is that it was cool to be able to be part of creating an environment that allowed them to value and ask for those experiences and those ideas.

[00:18:13] Maryam Pasha: And, you know, obviously, like the TED platform is slightly different. So you're not exact, you're not always looking for personal experience, maybe, depending on how it's contextualized. So we, there was a lot of young people. But the thing that inspired me actually from it was that although we couldn't take a lot of these young people, because again, we were looking kind of for [00:18:30] ideas rather than like just personal experience, the amount of young people who came through the platform, who said this horrible thing happened to me and I want to talk about it so it doesn't happen to someone else.

[00:18:42] Maryam Pasha: And I just thought, this is incredible, like, it's so generous, you know, so many of us like something happens to us and we just hide it away, you know, and, and there were so many young people who wanted to share that. So I think there is like a bit of a cultural shift about. So it feels quite optimistic.

[00:18:59] Maryam Pasha: What [00:19:00] I kind of imagine actually these days is also this idea that so many of the groups I might work in or clients I might work in is who are super nervous. I think, I wish you had the confidence of younger people. I wish you had the supportive environment or whatever change is happening because actually it's.

[00:19:18] Maryam Pasha: You know, I found myself with, with a team a few weeks back and there was so, it had been a while actually, since I'd been with a group where so many people were so nervous [00:19:30] of speaking, like petrified of speaking. And I just thought, Oh yeah, like, I don't know. It just, it just really struck me as how debilitating it was to have that.

[00:19:43] Maryam Pasha: Um, absolute fear, 

[00:19:47] Simon Bucknall: which is all the more tragic, I think when, when, uh, when, when considering how important speaking under pressure is at key checkpoints in life where there's job interviews or [00:20:00] it's, or it's a special occasion like a, like a wedding or it's a new business pitch or it's a, you know, I think about, uh, you know, I did as an undergrad did history in.

[00:20:08] Simon Bucknall: Yeah, at Oxford University, and there's all sorts of, you know, myths and legends and stories about the Oxford and Cambridge interview process and so on. The reality is, in my view, it's a spoken communication challenge. Of course, there's always going to say, right about five people of academic merit. It's a spoken communication challenge.

[00:20:28] Simon Bucknall: Yeah. [00:20:30] And the same, I think, is true of 

[00:20:31] Maryam Pasha: a job interview. I mean, say more about that, because I think there's something really interesting there about how we gatekeep some of these things, because I think historically, right, people coming into those universities would have been from, I mean, it's changing, but would have been from schools that would have had those opportunities to do more speaking and so would have Even implicitly developed those skills.

[00:20:50] Maryam Pasha: And so then it makes a lot of sense that the interview would be this speaking rather than an 

[00:20:56] Simon Bucknall: intellectual one. Absolutely. A massive factor, a massive factor [00:21:00] in terms of the confidence and just the experience of articulating ideas. And so I'm being able to deal with the cut and thrust of, uh, interviews.

[00:21:07] Simon Bucknall: Interviews of that sort are. There's kind of, it's almost like a kind of a mini mock tutorial or supervision to gauge what's this person like dealing with academically. And of course, the, and so where the kind of, oh, well, where it gets challenging is that, is that if, if somebody comes into an interview room with, of any sort, but literally is petrified by and finds it [00:21:30] extremely difficult to articulate their ideas with any clarity, it's impossible for an interviewer, whether or not it's for a job or whether it's for a university place or whatever, to, to, to be able to, to, to cut through that.

[00:21:43] Simon Bucknall: It's very, very difficult to do that. I think of, I mean, I know this is obviously a fictionalized, uh, moment. But so I think about the, in the film, Billy Elliot, uh, and at the risk of spoiling one of the key moments in Billy Elliot, if you've not seen the film, if you haven't seen the film, well then that's, well, such is life.

[00:21:55] Simon Bucknall: But there was a moment towards the end of the film, and he's a rough diamond, and Billy Elliot's there looking [00:22:00] for a place as a kid in a, at the Royal Ballet School, and he punches somebody in the face outside. The interview is an absolute car crash, it's a nightmare, he can't really, uh, he's, he's stressed up to his eyeballs, totally uncomfortable, and as he's walking out the room, having completely.

[00:22:14] Simon Bucknall: Completely screwed, completely bombed. One of the, I think one of the interview panelists says, Billy, what does it feel like when you dance? And he just turns around, you've seen the film, and he's like, electricity. And [00:22:30] this is one totally pure moment, but in the absence of that moment, you'd have been screwed.

[00:22:36] Simon Bucknall: And I think that's, that's, so going back to the point, I think it's so true that, um, so much is invested, and this is where it gets into an education, formal education side of things, so much is Is, is vested in helping people with the, you know, the, the writing skills, their s skills, the powers of critical analysis, numeracy, and all these good things.

[00:22:55] Simon Bucknall: And I know that they're really, really important. Um, but just, and I've spoken to [00:23:00] teachers about this and I'm married to a teacher, so it's not as if I'm, and my mother's a teacher. I'm not in any way pointing fingers to it. But I know from talking to teachers that, that with the best intentions, encouraging good chatting classroom, that can go so far.

[00:23:11] Simon Bucknall: But yeah. Encouraging people to talk a little bit in classrooms with Christ of say, 30 or whatever it is, is that's great, but does it really provide enough of a, of a focus to really develop skills in being able to handle questions really on the spot to be able to develop an argument? I, I, I, I don't think so, and I know that, I know [00:23:30] from, from experience talking to teachers, there's a lot of frustration that there is so.

[00:23:33] Simon Bucknall: pressure on them to tick certain boxes and to meet certain criteria that are more easily objectively measurable than whether a child can communicate through the spoken word confidently, whether they can be inspiring, whether they can influence, whether they can handle. That's harder to measure because we see that reality in interview outcomes.

[00:23:53] Simon Bucknall: Every day, but that's the reality that young people are going for and so I think that's one of the key challenges I think [00:24:00] and that's true Fox when came to news. It's true for medical interviews for medicine It's true for internships and the rest of it. 

[00:24:08] Maryam Pasha: So something here. We haven't talked about that. I think is also Part of this, and I think this is not just for young people, but applies, I think from that moment up and I do think it's changing, but I see it a lot is for a long time.

[00:24:23] Maryam Pasha: This idea of like who was seen as a good, like who was seen as a good speaker, whose [00:24:30] ideas were valid, whose voice was valid, whose, uh, uh, accent was valid, whose, Like, you know, tone was that, like this, I think it is changing, but there is definitely that. Sometimes the hesitation I feel with clients or that is embedded from, from when they're young or even with young people is I don't sound like I'm supposed to be an entrepreneur or, you know, English isn't my, you know.

[00:24:54] Maryam Pasha: Simon, you work with so many people across the world that I'm sure you come across it like I do, where people are like, [00:25:00] but English isn't my first language, so 

[00:25:01] Simon Bucknall: immediately I've got to have an accent reduction class. People come to me and I say, you don't need accent reduction 

[00:25:06] Maryam Pasha: classes. Yeah, there's so much, and it's not in their head.

[00:25:09] Maryam Pasha: It's absolutely like I just, I think it's really important to say that it's not a made up thing in people's head. Like people have been judged for a long time on these things. Obviously things are changing and so that's cool. But I do think that there is also this idea of, you know, do you sound. Like [00:25:30] people like, you know, like there's, I think people have this view of, oh, well I, I'm not gonna be taken seriously because not only do I not look the way I'm supposed to look, but I also don't sound the way I'm supposed to sound.

[00:25:41] Maryam Pasha: And 

[00:25:41] Simon Bucknall: honestly, I think that exactly what you've just articulated there. is what sits behind the word gravitas in many people's minds, which has been a word in vogue in the last few years in the workplace, so and so they, they need, they need more gravitas. So what do you mean by that? And it's fascinating to see how people answer it because often it [00:26:00] boils down to they, they just need to, it's cropped up literally yesterday, just need them, this person to just sound more senior.

[00:26:07] Simon Bucknall: Yeah. Well, fine. I kind of get that. What does that mean? Because within that, there's a whole world of a whole tangle of assumptions, biases, beliefs that sit beneath that. Um, 

[00:26:19] Zain Hussain: yeah. I had a question that came in before the podcast for, for both of you. Uh, Maryam, you've through Ted, you've seen so many different ideas.

[00:26:26] Zain Hussain: Simon, you've seen so much in the world of public speaking. You both have, [00:26:30] what's the most innovative or just the most revolutionary thing you're seeing now? or seeing someone do to scale oracy globally or to scale communication skills. Is there something you've seen recently or that excites you? 

[00:26:47] Simon Bucknall: Ma'am, you go, you go 

[00:26:48] Maryam Pasha: first.

[00:26:48] Maryam Pasha: I can go first. Um, so I think that obviously I spend a lot of my work right now in climate. So that is where my brain goes to first. And there's been some really interesting [00:27:00] work being done across the board in the kind of environment climate. Um, pollution space around how we talk about climate change, how do you storytelling and that's in like film that's in like one to one personal communication.

[00:27:16] Maryam Pasha: So you've got people like, um, John Marshall over at potential energy, who's doing like global research and he, one of his most recent findings is that the one message that cuts through every demographic, every [00:27:30] country, every political meeting is love. Which is just a beautiful finding. And then you've got people like Catherine Hayhoe, who's a climate scientist from Texas, who is also a very devout Christian, who talks about how she messages to her community about climate, and how she has those personal conversations.

[00:27:48] Maryam Pasha: Then you've got people like, um, Emma Stewart at Netflix, who is there, you know, uh, helping filmmakers bring accurate science of [00:28:00] climate into their films, even when it's not about that. You know, um, and, and then, you know, there's so many I haven't mentioned, but this kind of incredible, there's this incredible movement to understand that we have not done a very good job of telling the story about why even calling it climate change.

[00:28:19] Maryam Pasha: So for example, like we shouldn't be calling it climate change. We should be calling it pollution, right? It's pollution. A changing climate is a distant off thing that [00:28:30] who knows. Pollution has a polluter. This is not an accidental thing that happened. So even things like that are so profound and it really inspired me.

[00:28:39] Maryam Pasha: And then you see that being used by incredible young people. You see that being used by incredible scientists, like something called science mums. If you, you know, on Instagram, you can go check it. They do great science communication for mums about climate is so accessible. So I don't know, I, for me, I'm finding real.

[00:28:57] Maryam Pasha: Joy in the [00:29:00] creativity and the, and the evidence base that's coming into, uh, talking about, uh, what's happening to our planet. So that's, 

[00:29:07] Simon Bucknall: that's my answer. We all have our own stories, but we all share the same emotions. Especially towards 

[00:29:12] Maryam Pasha: our people 

[00:29:12] Simon Bucknall: we love. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. So that was my answer. What about you?

[00:29:16] Simon Bucknall: Now, I promise listeners, this is not a setup, but actually if there's only one thing or what comes to my mind that I think has made the biggest, you were saying about most inspiring or sort of shift or mechanism for shift in terms of, to scale oracy, then yeah, I, I [00:29:30] would say Ted. And I'm not just saying this because Maryam's in the room as I'm lying, it is because you're in the room.

[00:29:38] Simon Bucknall: No, I couldn't say it. Genuinely, genuinely, if there's only one thing I think in the last 20 years, which I think has moved the needle in terms of how people perceive, connect with, engage with, the public speaking as a format. I cannot think of something that's been more significant than Ted. I genuinely can't.

[00:29:57] Simon Bucknall: Uh, it's part of the lexicon. Everyone's talking about doing a Ted [00:30:00] Talk style or whatever, you know, it's, it's so particularly because of two key things. One, of course, was the decision back in 05 06 to make publicly available, uh, free, um, the, uh, some of the, the, the, the The, the talks from the, the, the, the, the sort of the main Ted conference of which of course people like Ken Robinson and Hans Rosling and so on became very well known as a result.

[00:30:21] Simon Bucknall: Um, but at that time it was a very elite event. And then of course the second step be, I mean, I can remember in the public speaking club friends coming and say, have you seen, have you seen [00:30:30] Ted, they've got some really good talks on there. Yeah. And there's only a few, but they're really good. Yeah. And I remember watching Ken Robinson's Ted talk for the first time in, it would have been about Oh seven, I think I'm thinking, Oh yeah.

[00:30:40] Simon Bucknall: Oh, wow. This is good stuff. And by the way, it's a great talk. If you've not seen it in talking about young people and creativity, it's fantastic, fantastic talk with some great stories. But then the other step, of course, has been the development of the opening up of the franchise with TEDx locally organized TED events around the world of which that now this is where Maryam is the [00:31:00] expert, but there's gazillions of them.

[00:31:01] Simon Bucknall: I like it when 

[00:31:01] Maryam Pasha: Simon does the marketing. This 

[00:31:02] Simon Bucknall: is it. There you are. I'm happy to be an ambassador. Yeah, but there's gazillions of locally organized events. I just think it's, it's fantastic. And it's, and it's retained the, this is speaking to a live audience and it's worked. It's engaged. Yeah. Some years ago, the BBC attempted a reality show called The Speaker, uh, which involved bringing together, uh, Maybe it was 12 or 14 young people and they ran through a series of exercises and they did stuff.

[00:31:29] Simon Bucknall: [00:31:30] One of the, one of them was about political communications, literally working with Alastair Campbell and so on. So there was always, and it, and it just, I was really excited when I heard about it. Oh, this is fantastic. And it just somehow didn't fly. Um, Look at Ted. I mean, it's really, it's really, and it's brought so much expertise and insight and inspiration to so many people on so many different topics.

[00:31:50] Simon Bucknall: So I think it's, I 

[00:31:53] Maryam Pasha: obviously have to add to this and say that I think the other thing it's done is it's raised the bar of the expectation of the listeners [00:32:00] like. You know, it's not just that, um, storytelling and public speaking, which I agree, it has brought it back into being, I mean, it's part of that whole serial and the, the whole like resurgence of storytelling in general, but it's also changed the expectations of people sitting in an audience or sitting in a boardroom or sitting in an interview listening.

[00:32:21] Maryam Pasha: people expect things to be better, higher quality, more to the point, great storytelling. And so it has, it's [00:32:30] shifted all of our expectations. 

[00:32:32] Simon Bucknall: I remember 15 years ago when starting out storytelling as a topic was then definitely still regarded as being a little bit niche, a little bit soft and fluffy. You know, there's certainly sectors and industries where it would be dismissed.

[00:32:44] Simon Bucknall: Not now. No chat. I mean, I've just spent most of today in calls involving. Uh, work with pretty serious hardheaded investment professionals in financial services, looking at talking about how to get more emotion out, how to tell stories better, how to bring [00:33:00] narrative more effectively into key meetings, AGMs, pitches to management teams and so on.

[00:33:06] Simon Bucknall: That was not happening. It. At scale in the, in the financial services world, I don't think 15 years ago. Yeah. 

[00:33:13] Maryam Pasha: I mean, even these days when I get, sometimes I get pushed back in my, with, with workshops and stuff when I'm working with, um, so doing a lot of work with NGOs who are figuring out how to speak to philanthropy, you know, um, and principals and serious people.

[00:33:27] Maryam Pasha: Um, and I'm like, even serious [00:33:30] people don't want to be bored. You know, this is just the truth of it. Like, like they want, they obviously want you to have credibility and robustness and, and they want you to have a, uh, take it seriously and all those things, but nobody wants to be bored. That is just not 

[00:33:44] Simon Bucknall: an audience member.

[00:33:45] Simon Bucknall: They say, yeah, I just want to be really, really bored. I 

[00:33:47] Maryam Pasha: just want to see all the numbers and the graphs and all, you know, so I think there is a, just like people are just being a bit more human, you know, and we're understanding that like humans, like. Like to be told stories and I think, [00:34:00] yeah, I agree. I do think Ted has kind of changed, changed our expectations on both as speakers and listeners.

[00:34:05] Maryam Pasha: I think that's a beautiful way to bring this episode to an end. 

[00:34:10] Zain Hussain: Thank you so much and I appreciate all the questions. I appreciate all the insights and the stories Thank you all for listening to and coming through to the live edition of the speechless podcast 

[00:34:22] Simon Bucknall: You've been listening to speechless the podcast from storytelling experts Maryam Pasha and Simon Bucknall Hit follow now to keep learning how to tell [00:34:30] stories that change the world if you enjoyed it Please give us a rating and review until next time speak less say more