#53: Say Things Better with Lila Smith
#53: Say Things Better with Lila Smith
Ready to level up your communication skills? Communication is the language of leadership, and learning to do it effectively is key to personal and career success! Join us this week with Lila Smith, actress, Linkedin influencer and founder of communication consultancy, Say Things Better. Tune in to learn how acting helped Lila perfect her communication strategy, get an overview of her 5-step framework to Say Things Better, and hear her tips on communication from how to prepare for a speaking event to her advice on pivoting during a talk based on the the cues and visual signs your audience gives off.
#53: Say Things Better with Lila Smith
Hala Taha: [00:00:00] This episode of YAP is sponsored by Fiverr. I've been using Fiverr for years. In fact, I got the YAP logo made on there, and if you've seen my cool audiograms with animated cartoons, I get those images from Fiverr too. They have affordable digital marketing services and over 100,000 talented freelancers to choose from the best part is that it's super affordable. If you're interested to give Fiverr a shot, hit the link in our show notes.
You're listening to YAP, young and profiting podcast, a place where you can listen, learn and profit. I'm your host, Hala Taha and today we're talking with Lila Smith. Lila has a fascinating background. She started her career as an actress, and then dabbled in e-commerce and made a name for herself in the corporate world.
And after garnering major attention on LinkedIn for a unique perspective on communication, she became an entrepreneur. Launching a communication coaching business called Say things better. Tune in to learn how acting helped Lila perfect your
[00:01:00] communication strategy. Get an overview of her five step framework to say things better and hear her tips on communication, from how to prepare for speaking event to her advice on pivoting during a talk based on the cues and visual signs that your audience gives off.
Hi Lila. Thanks for joining young and profiting podcast.
Lila Smith: Oh, thank you so much for having me. It's really exciting to be a guest on a podcast than I am a subscriber of.
Hala Taha: I know you were telling me before this conversation and that's so cool. I love it. When the guests that I talk to like to follow the podcast, I have a David Meltzer who I've interviewed a few times is also like a big fan of the show.
Lila Smith: I know. He was on an episode. That was just a couple of weeks after my birthday. My birthday is the same time every year, but it was a couple of weeks after my birthday last year. And I remember that episode and sometimes I will listen to your podcasts, get introduced to a guest, and then I'll go stallk them around the internet.
I listened to your episode with Claude silver, and then I
[00:02:00] also, she's on an episode of my friend, Adam Posner's podcast, the pozcast, and then I went and binged on her stuff on LinkedIn. And so it's a great way to get exposed to other creative thinkers. I love what you do.
Hala Taha: Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Today, we're really going to be focused on communication and we haven't really talked about this on the podcast. So really excited that I get to talk about this topic as it's one of my favorite topics as a marketer, to me, communication is so fascinating because it's like a subtle field. Wars have been fought.
Relationships all around the world formed in broken. Businesses, failing and succeeding. And it's really all stemming from at the core communication, in my opinion. And it's really like the foundation of life and business. You are really focused on communication right now, but you started your career as an actress.
And you actually went on to work in the corporate world in e-commerce and then you
[00:03:00] became an entrepreneur with your current business, say things better as a communication consultant. So could you share some more color about your professional journey and how you landed on communication as your main focus area?
Lila Smith: Yeah, I, thank you so much for doing your research and learning so much about my background so far. To share with some people who don't know anything about me yet, I'm Lila Smith. I'm the creator of the say things better method of intentional communication. And it happens to be that I was this actress professionally for 10 years in New York city and on tours around the country.
I learned all of this stuff when I was acting. That I felt could be used in a way that was more immediate, that the, a show you'll go and see a play or you'll go and watch a movie. And maybe the story will stick with you. And so I think its story is important, but communication happens in a moment interpersonally.
So if I'm talking to you now or a brand is giving you
[00:04:00] one blast of a message or one ad that you scroll by, we have almost no time to communicate effectively. So in that time, the whole story has to be told, you don't have a full play or a full movie to really be clear with what's important for you to have other people understand.
And so I've been using my tools that I learned in theater to help other people communicate better in those moments in everyday life and in branding, it's been a wild journey because I was performing for a really long time. And I thought this has gotta be the way that I meant to share my gifts with the world.
I'm a creative person. I love being on stage. I love sharing stories that I think are important. I love the work that we're doing creatively, but I still felt like my story was getting lost in the background. And my words were nowhere to be
[00:05:00] found. It was always some playwrights words that I was speaking.
And my storytelling happened through those words as a vehicle, but I wasn't in it. And now what I love to do is help people to use the tools that I learned in acting to express themselves and connect with their message directly to the people that need to hear at the most.
Hala Taha: I love this. I heard you on another interview where you talk about make believe and how make believe doesn't necessarily mean pretending. Could you talk about that a little bit?
Lila Smith: Yeah. When you're playing make believe, you're making somebody else believe because you believe at first, when you look at kids playing the game of make-believe or you're looking at an episode of Mr. Rogers neighborhood and the land of make-believe, it all exists in reality, it's reality in your imagination, it's reality in your heart.
And you only have to share that world that you believe in for other people to
[00:06:00] believe in it too. You can look at kids who are experts at this because they haven't been socialized out of being comfortable, exploring what they believe and expressing what they believe. It's only as we get older, that we start worrying about whether other people can see what we imagine or whether their reality is not going to jive with ours.
So making believe you can make somebody else believe by believing it first yourself and expressing and creating a world based in story or based in just presence and a moment and intentional communication that brings them into that with you.
Hala Taha: Totally. I love that. So you've transitioned your career a few times.
Let's begin with acting. You spent, your young life preparing to be an actress. I think almost 30 years you were acting. How did you decide to switch paths and how did you realize that acting just wasn't for you anymore?
Lila Smith: It was my whole life. I
[00:07:00] came out dancing, like feet first. And so I was meant to be.
In some way on a stage or in front of people, my parents thought this girl needs to be on some kind of a stage. Let's put her in acting classes and camps, and I loved it and I demanded more of it. So it was what I thought at the time was the best way to connect through story and to get to express different kinds of perspectives creatively.
I do that same thing now, but there's no fiction about it. I'm telling my story as a speaker and I'm helping other people tell theirs, and that feels more direct for me. And I like that a lot more. It's not that I would never perform again, but I'm so much happier now dealing with the nonfiction world.
And using those same tools that I used in acting, but I stopped acting when I was, oh gosh, I was really excited to be in this play. I had hustled and
[00:08:00] auditioned and I had gotten cast in something with a really great theater company in New York. And I was just one night God, I would rather wash dishes than go to rehearsal right now.
It was just, it was not a good feeling. I had been doing this for so long and loving it so much. And then when I stopped loving it and I started feeling more like I was doing it out of obligation to the time I had already put in rather than to being called from my heart to continue creating this way.
It wasn't a good feeling. And it made me feel like I have I been wasting my time. Have I been doing the completely wrong thing? And I don't think that's true. I had to forgive myself in the moment and remember, we go through seasons in our life. We can change and we can change our minds, do something else.
And it was that permission that I gave myself to go and see, how else can I use this creativity? How else can I
[00:09:00] apply this? That will feel better than this. Because there is nothing worse than going into an extremely hard to survive an industry when your heart is not in it, that's just stupid.
You're going to lose your mind. You're going to lose your money. And I did for a while. And so I had to rescue myself to get out and do some searching.
Hala Taha: Yeah. After you left acting, you went into corporate, I believe. And you dabbled in e-commerce. What was that experience like being an actor not, and I think you went to undergrad in college, like for theater, so you didn't really have a business credentials.
What was that experience like being in the corporate world and how did you navigate that? And then why did you decide, okay, this isn't for me again, I want to be an entrepreneur.
Lila Smith: So we know it's funny yes, I had this career in e-commerce and, before that and brand experiences, so like events and in store
[00:10:00] retail pop-ups things like that, but that was my day job.
Actors need to have some kind of day job to give them income while they're pursuing this very low paid path, at least in the beginning. And so a lot of actors look for things with flexible schedules, like bartending or waiting tables, especially in New York city where, every waiter is also an actor, but for me, that was not going to be it.
I'm not like a great waitress. I was a singing waitress one summer, and I was also in the plays that, that theater company produced. But otherwise that is, it's a real skill and I don't really have it, so that wasn't going to be it for me. So I needed to make money while I was performing. And so I happened to have this very traditional career trajectory.
That ran parallel to my acting career. So it wasn't like one and then another, it always happened at the same time. So when I was in leading a
[00:11:00] department in e-commerce, I was also performing in this theater off Broadway, playing amazing roles, things that I was loving, sinking my teeth into, and then taking some of that creative energy back over the office.
So I saw firsthand how the communication skills that I had that I used in theater translated right away into an office environment, into e-commerce and digital marketing and expressing creatively a full story of everything that mattered about a brand to a customer and everything that mattered about a company to the employees and everything that mattered about a story to the audience that I was performing for.
It all was happening at the same time for me, but I didn't even realize it until I went over to LinkedIn and started getting engaged in a community there and started commenting on things. And I would come up with things like, oh, this thing happened in the office. It's like that thing that happened in
And then people would ask me questions. Oh, say more about that. And at first I was like, really? That's interesting to you, I had no idea that it would be interesting to people that theater provides a perspective in business that it's otherwise missing. And so when I was told by my audience on LinkedIn, what you have to say is interesting and different and we want it and we'll pay you for it.
That's what started me on entrepreneurial path. This, I have to provide something because people are asking for it. They're telling me they're offering me money. They're offering me opportunities. They're saying this is interesting. What is it that I can do to make a thing of this? And it happened to be just something that my audience made for me.
I really feel like my life now is due to those people.
Hala Taha: Do you feel that if you didn't grow your following on LinkedIn, that you would never have started say things better?
Lila Smith: Absolutely. I would never have. I would never have it. Didn't occur. Okay. So
[00:13:00] never like maybe it would have popped into my head, but I'm not a risky person.
I might've had the idea, but I'm not somebody who takes big leaps comfortably without a strategy. I'm strategists, so it looks like I'm taking big leaps fast, but I'm just smart about the steps that come next and things once I make a decision, but I don't have a lot of risk in me. I don't have a lot of, let me take this leap off this bridge.
Not knowing who's going to catch me. I needed of full community of people cheering and saying jump, jump. We got to I needed that. I'm not like a Crowdsurfer without a crowd, basically.
Hala Taha: And just for context for my listeners who don't know Lila, she has about like 30,000 followers on LinkedIn, very engaged community.
She does LinkedIn live. She's got a very active community base that supports her on that channel. That worked well because I was going to ask you one of my next questions is how have you leveraged LinkedIn? But LinkedIn is basically what
[00:14:00] propelled you. So
Lila Smith: It started that way, like it is.
And I, you and I met there. I've met so many very cool people on LinkedIn, who I would never have had the chance to meet otherwise people from all over the world. And I'm not talking about social media superstars or influencers. I'm talking about people who run businesses in Ghana or who are philosophers in India, or who are architects in London.
I'm talking about the people. Who have varied professional interests, but everybody on that platform is there for one reason. And that's connective professional growth. We all rise together. We share ideas, we share support and the diversity of the landscape of people that I've been exposed to on LinkedIn makes me better at my job.
I'm listening every single day. It's been almost a thousand consecutive days that I've been on LinkedIn, listening and watching and engaging and building relationships. So I know how to serve that many more kinds of
[00:15:00] people because of the exposure of the platform. So it's not just that they propelled me into this business, but that they give me everything I need to know.
To better serve with what I do.
Hala Taha: It's like instant feedback. And you also get ideas from other people like when I'm posting content and people are commenting things, they're giving me insight that I wouldn't have ever thought of by myself. Let's talk about, say things better. What is your mission with say things better and what is a day in the life of Lila Smith?
Lila Smith: Oh, is there a typical day? Looking for it, I do a bunch of different podcasts interviews, so there's usually one a week or so sometimes less, sometimes more, but there's no real typical day. I have clients in different parts of the world, like Australia and Saudi Arabia and London and Oregon. So there are people in all the different time zones.
So a lot of it is trying to balance what is
[00:16:00] a normal time for them to work. And for me to work with them, trying to help them with branding themselves and their communication challenges and being better as a speaker or whatever it is that I'm working on with that person has to happen at a time
that makes sense for them when I'm also not supposed to be sleeping. So that's like the primary priority is making sure that people have time with me. And then I try to fit other things in around that. I'm pretty flexible and adaptable with my own schedule. So that works out. But otherwise I don't really have a typical thing.
It's always something new. And I love that about what I do.
Hala Taha: What is say things better. Can you describe your communication consultant business with everybody?
Lila Smith: Yeah. So say things better is a methodology. It helps people to communicate in a way that connects whether that's one-on-one or business to audience.
It's just five steps. And it's based on the method that I used in theater, when I was rehearsing to get the best parts of me to come through
[00:17:00] the story I was telling in service of the character. In service of the story and surface of the audience that we were connecting to. So we did all of this chain of communication person to person on stage, the people on stage in a scene, the environment that they're in, which translated to in my e-commerce life.
The website that people were looking at, what did it feel like to be in that room? And this immersion in a storytelling experience really gave me so much to use, to communicate very clearly and to communicate in a way that people would feel like they belonged there in that story, that they were part of it.
So the method that I use in acting to pull my story through, it comes in a series of steps and I reappropriated some of those steps and then added a few that were based on my personal values. And that's because in theater, we do all of this stuff to create dramatic conflict on stage, which is interesting to watch, but it's the
[00:18:00] opposite of what I want to achieve in communication.
I don't want conflict. I want connection and confluence and collaboration. So those are the things that I used as inspiration, where my acting tools put them into this series of five steps. And now I give that to people and I use it to help them define who they're talking to, why it's important to them to say anything to them at all, what they want to get out of this particular communication event that they're going into.
So what will make it a win for them? What will make it a win for the other people that they're asking something of, to be there and what it's going to feel like there. And all of that is in just these five steps, motivation, objective, communication partners, objective, toolbox, and verbial values.
Hala Taha: Awesome. That's my next question.
Could you walk us through your five-step methodology for say things better?
Lila Smith: Yes. Sure. So motivation is the thing that's going to hold you accountable to being an intentional communicator at all. We all
[00:19:00] have some kind of a legacy we want to leave behind or a mission of some kind that drives us and putting that into a motivation statement is a way of being clear about
everything that you're doing all of the goals that you're setting, what are they ultimately serving so that you can set your priorities better and connect with people more clearly.
Hala Taha: And I think you also call this a super objective, correct?
Lila Smith: At one point, yeah, it was like a super objective for a character in a play or in a movie, a character has a super objective, which is their goal.
For an entire play. When you look at them and you say, this is what's driving them in their journey to move from beginning of the story, to the end of it, at least where we see. And then furthermore, like past off the page off of the script, that journey for that character continues. If there, if you make belief that they exist and that they have a real life.
So that's where I got that from is super objective, which comes from the Stanislavski system, which
[00:20:00] is a rehearsal method for actors. That really made the acting movement more about humanistic natural connection rather than being showy onstage. So it really took everything from, let me show off and get applause for being stupid to let me connect and tell a real story in a way that feels like you're getting a peek into a window in someone's house or someone's life and feeling like you're part of that story.
Like you're another character. And so it's a much more connective way of performing and that's where that first step comes from.
Hala Taha: Very cool.
Lila Smith: So the second step is setting one objective for one communication event at a time and acting, actors will go on stage for a character in one scene and decide what is the one thing that my character must get from the other person on stage.
In order for this scene to be a success for them,
[00:21:00] and then use everything we can, whether it's the script or our own context and performance and creative work to make that happen for them. Even if the script says they don't get it, the character doesn't know that until the very last second that they're given that final
no or both cnens. So that's what that's, what's interesting to watch and we're driven for our own objectives in life too. We're all positively motivated. Even people that you think are jerks. They're all. They're not trying necessarily to make someone else feel bad for no reason. They're not driven to make other people feel bad unless they're like, a psychopath or something, but they are driven to do something that will feel good for themselves.
We all are. We are all choosing what is going to make me happy. What is going to make me in a better positive position. And that's your objective for this one communication event at a time. So an email subject line should have the objective, get them to open the email.
[00:22:00] The email itself can have a new objective
at a different communication event. So setting one at a time, one objective at a time keeps you clear on message. The third step is your communication partner's objective, and this is where theater really leaves off. We are only driven as actors to pursue our own characters objective. Because again, it creates that conflict
that's interesting to watch, but in real life you want partnerships. You want sustainability, you want the opposite of conflict. So the opposite of only pursuing our own objectives is not to not pursue our objectives, but to also pursue our communication partners objectives, everybody else needs something too.
So we have to think, what do they want, what do they want to get out of this? Like what does Hala need to get out of this to feel like this was a great episode? What can I give to her audience to make them feel like I'm so glad I downloaded the young and profiting podcast today because Lila Smith was on it.
And she gave me these things that I needed
[00:23:00] in order to move forward or think of things from a different angle or to examine my communication more closely. If those are the objectives of the audience and listening to an episode about communication, then it's my job to look at step four, your toolbox, and see what can I uniquely provide that is just mine, that I can provide to this audience to make them feel that their objective was met in listening to this episode.
So I'm picking the things that are different about me. I did theater and I did e-commerce. I did creative work and I did leadership. I did management. I did, I've done all of these different things in combination, and it makes me different than any other actress who's out there who didn't also have a corporate career.
It makes me different than anybody in corporate who talks about leadership without really understanding the creative potential of communication. Those are the things that I bring up and I try to use examples of, and then verbial values, the fifth step. This is about how it feels
[00:24:00] when you communicate with people.
So do you want to play a game?
Hala Taha: Sure.
Lila Smith: Okay. So you're going to meet the actress and I'm going to give you a line. And just going to look at like any book that's by me or, okay. I have a bottle of water and it says call us for more information. Okay. So that's your line. Call us for more information. It's not a very compelling line, so it's really on you to make this interesting for your audience.
Call us for more information. Are you off book? Do you know your line now?
Hala Taha: Yes.
Lila Smith: Okay, great. So now give me that line. I'm your communication partner, but set your intention to excite me, call us for more information and your intention is to excite.
Hala Taha: Call us for more information. If you want to know something that you've never heard before.
Lila Smith: I'm intrigued to say you definitely did intrigue me. And now I'm going to put a limit on you. You can only use the words, call us for more information. You don't get to choose any other words, call us for more
[00:25:00] information and your intention is to excite.
Hala Taha: Call us for more information.
Lila Smith: Awesome. And it definitely changed what you sounded like, not because you were like, let me make my voice sound this way, but because you know what it is for you to try and excite someone, you exciting someone.
So let's try a different verb. If you want to say, call us for more information, try to dismiss.
Hala Taha: Cause for more information,
Lila Smith: it sounds really different. It sounds really different. And so we always sound some way, whether we set our intentions to sound that way or not, if we're trying to excite people, we have to decide to excite them.
And it's really that simple. And now you're a gifted actress, and you're also a more connective communicator. It's my intention to affirm because that's where my values are. I want people to feel acknowledged and safe and valued just for where they are
[00:26:00] right now in this moment already without improvement.
I want people to see that they already have value. It's not on me to create it for them, that they already are valuable. So that acknowledgement of existing specialists is one of my values. And I express that with this verb to affirm. So I'm not walking around saying to affirm, but it is always my intention to affirm my communication partner.
And it comes out in the way that I talk to them. When we started this episode, I began by affirming what you're doing is so great. You get these people who are so awesome, and saying there's so much value here, just affirming that comes from my values. And I do it on purpose. I'm intentionally affirming the people that I really believe in my communication partners like you.
Hala Taha: That's awesome. What great advice. I love this framework. I'm going to ask some questions to dig deeper on this. First let's start by
[00:27:00] listening. You didn't inherently say it, but you did mention that we need to pay attention to how our communication partners are feeling. And I think a big part of this is listening and you say listening is where the magic happens.
So tell us about the importance of listening and not only listening, but watching your communication partners as you're speaking.
Lila Smith: Oh, people tell us so much that has nothing to do with the words. Look, I just gave you words that didn't belong to you. That didn't mean anything. And what I'm listening for is what I think you want me to feel.
I feel dismissed when you choose to dismiss and say those words, I feel excited when you choose to excite me and say those words. So I'm looking not for just, what is the content of the words that you're sharing, but what is the intent, we're always listening for intent to determine whether or not we can trust our communication partners.
So that is something that I'm
[00:28:00] always aware of is what is the intent, how are they feeling? And also, how is my message being received? I'm looking at things like, do I still have a connection? And eye connection here, eye contact is not just one way when I'm looking at someone's eyes, they have to be looking back at me in order for that to be a real connection I'm looking at, are they shifting around?
Are they looking around the room or are they leaning forward in their chair? Are they hanging on the words that I'm saying? Are they looking for more? There's so much that we can tell by body language. There's so much that we can tell from the words that people use and the words that they don't use, I'm looking for what people intentionally, don't say, just as much as what they intentionally do say, and it tells a full picture of things.
It really gives us a lot more to go on. If you're in marketing and you're looking in, at web behavioral data for your customers, you're looking at what time of day are they buying things?
[00:29:00] When do they make purchases and you want to probably scale out and plan and strategize your content and your advertisements to be close to that point of conversion, that point where they're going to make a purchase, just like in theater, you want to put the climax at a certain point in a play where, you have the audience hooked and they're hooked and they're hooked and they're with you and they're with you.
And if you put it at the wrong part, they're going to lose interest. They're going to start thinking about what they're going to have for lunch tomorrow. So that timing is everything. And so paying attention to is, it is now at the time, is now the time for my audience to hear this message. Do they seem open to it?
If you're just communicating at home, let's say that you wanted to express something to, your mother, your husband, your brother, your friends, whoever is around you. And they are in the middle of getting dressed, running out the
[00:30:00] door and it's, it seems like they're preoccupied. Their head is in a million places.
Is it the best time? To start a conversation about some feedback that's really important to you to give because your feelings were hurt. Are they going to be the most open to that message? Like at that time?
Hala Taha: Most likely not. So I think that's great advice. So let's say we are speaking to a group and we noticed that there's crossed arms, wandering eyes.
People are fidgeting, maybe a yawner or two. What do we do then? How do we turn it around?
Lila Smith: Pivot. Pick a different verb, ask yourself, am I exciting them right now? And maybe if you can pivot your content, it could be your content or it could be just your engagement. It could be how connected you are.
It could be that they need to feel something else in order to be compelled to listen. So disrupt them, make a big, physical gesture just to grab their attention, get them back in and then change your verb. So
[00:31:00] just now I moved into to mobilize. And you can hear a difference in my voice, just in case people had been going, ah, I don't know.
Maybe I'll listen to the rest of this later. Now I am in mobilize mode. I'm going, if people are listening to this right now, I need you to take action. I need you to think about the way that you're communicating and decide that you can do better, that you don't have to be, lazy about it, that you can do something yourself to be accountable for.
It was because I had this personal relationship. That taught me a very personal lesson that I really decided that this verbial values technique was something we should be using in real life. Not just on stage so I can share that story if you're up for it.
Hala Taha: I'd love it to.
Lila Smith: So in theater afters, we go on stage and we know what our objective is for a scene.
We know what we're supposed to be going after, but people who have studied Stella Adler and some other techniques, we choose verbs
[00:32:00] to guide our communication on stage. We say it is my intention to communicate to that other person on stage my scene partner. And I'm going to. Exhilarate them, I'm going to exhilarate them.
I'm going to uplift them. I'm going to encourage them. I'm going to comfort them. We choose before we go on stage and in the rehearsal process, what to try. So I know that it's possible to just make that decision. We did it here on this podcast, playing game. Everybody can do it. You can do it for their whole rest of the day for the whole rest of your life.
You can decide how to communicate with people in your life. You can decide what it feels like. A brand can decide. I want, if you're, maybe you're a Gatorade and I want to fuel the champion within, I want to fuel, I want to champion, I want to quench. I want to motivate my communication partner. You make that choice.
But in my life, I had this
[00:33:00] relationship that I was in for a really long time where, and I'm sure that you've heard this before too. And probably a lot of people listening have heard somebody say to them a lot of times, it wasn't my intention to offend you. Wasn't my intention to upset you. It wasn't my intention to leave you out.
It wasn't my intention to exclude you. It wasn't my intention to put you down. It wasn't my intention to minimize your dreams. And it wasn't my intention to bury you. It wasn't my intention to hurt you. So you hear these things a lot, have you heard that from anyone in your life?
Hala Taha: Oh yeah. Over and over again.
Lila Smith: And have you ever said it?
Hala Taha: I'm sure I've said it before too.
Lila Smith: I've said it too. Yeah, but it came up, it was like, it just kept happening. And this was at the time that I was doing a lot of performing. And I was like, you know what? No, that's not good enough. It's not good
[00:34:00] enough to say it. Wasn't my intention. What was your intention?
And if you can't tell me what it was, then you didn't set your intentions to begin with. And that shows me that you didn't care enough. You didn't care as much as you could have about connecting with me about our relationship, making me feel like I'm the primary communication partner that matters. It minimizes someone. If you say things like I could ask 20 other people and they would all agree with me. There are no other 20 people here. And even if they did, you're not in a relationship with those people. I'm the communication partner who matters. You have to care for me. You have to give me what my objective is for me to feel that this communication event is a win for me.
You have to verb your values. You have to actively pursue who you want to be as a person to be accountable for how you make people feel. That's where this comes from.
Hala Taha: That's so interesting. Let's move on to our own body language. So there's been so many studies where basically they
[00:35:00] say that nonverbal communication accounts for 50 plus percent of how an audience perceives
a presenter. So that means a majority of what we say is actually not communicated through our words, but through our different physical cues. So how about our own body language? How do we send the right signals and what are some best practices when it comes to our own body language?
Lila Smith: Oh, best practices are not to worry about it.
Let's Stop thinking about your body. But if you really want to see what you're doing, you can check whether or not you're present and whether or not you're intentional in your communication. So video is a really helpful tool. If you are presenting, get on video, it doesn't have to be like somebody else takes a fancy video.
It's just for you to watch yourself. Be aware, you don't have to make eye contact with seven people. You don't have to move your arms in and out from the center of your body. You don't have to take five steps in one direction and 10 steps in another. If you're thinking about that, then you're not thinking about what you're saying.
[00:36:00] if you really want to be present, verb your values is really my direction. Watch yourself on video and ask yourself if you are communicating in a way that exemplifies your values, my three for my verbial values set. And we always get three. One of which is a listening verb are to affirm, to connect and to empower.
So if I'm watching a video of myself and I asked myself do I look like I'm trying to empower the audience right here. We don't have to know, move this way, do this thing, do that thing. All we have to know is have I achieved that or not? And then go into that mindset. It's so much more connective to start from within rather than to make adjustments without.
Hala Taha: Let's talk about tone and pace of voice. So we briefly touched on this before. What's your opinion on the tone and pace that we should use? I know I'm sure it depends on what we're trying to communicate, but do you have any like rules of thumb? Like for
[00:37:00] example, if we want to come across as trustworthy, how should we sound?
Lila Smith: It depends on how you want to achieve trust. So if you're trying to educate someone and that's how you want to achieve their trust. If that's your value, putting that into action it's to educate. So when you decide to educate someone, then you naturally know to slow down around points that you want to nail, that you want to say things maybe another time, or bring them up in a different context, repeating things.
When it's your goal to educate. Then you speak like an educator. If you earn trust by influencing people, lighting their fire. If they trust you because they see you have an energy that they want to have themselves then to ignite might be your verb, your guiding verb. Think tone really comes from your intentions.
We heard it in your voice before saying, call us for more information. So you have to decide how you want to earn people's trust. And what's natural to you.
[00:38:00] So there's no one size fits all method for earning trust, because if I tried to do it in the way that somebody else did it probably wouldn't earn their trust.
It would achieve the opposite. If I wanted to equip people with tools, for like data or whatever, I would be sharing things that really aren't my specialty I'd feel a lack of confidence. And I would be ill-equipped to equip people that way. But what I can do is connect. So when I connect, I am thinking about that person.
I'm looking at them and we're when our intentions are to connect we do, there are some things that are just like very brief, like a couple of practical things. You want to make sure that you're heard. So having proper breath support, doing physical vocal warmups are important and breath support is important when you're speaking on stage and there's the way that we go through things.
And there's also moving through an idea
[00:39:00] really quickly, which can sometimes lose people. If the details are too new. If you move through an idea really quickly, when it's a story that is very familiar to people, then it's okay to go fast. But when you need to share something that's brand new for people, you might want to give a little bit of space for that information to land.
That's just a, like a basic tip for that kind of thing. But there's also having hope that people in the audience are open to you and having faith that they will receive. What you're giving them if they are. So I did a lot of Shakespeare and Shakespeare, it's a many hundreds year old version of a language we speak now it's English, but people think it sounds like a different language and that's often because people are trying to overeducate while they are using these words.
If you're really listening, if you're watching like reality TV in a language, you don't speak, you probably will still understand the story. So if that's the case, if I'm watching a telenovela or I'm watching like an
[00:40:00] Arabic reality TV show or something, which are fun things to do, if you've never tried it, but I get it.
Like I get it enough. And that's really the point when you're performing Shakespeare and treating the language as alien, then the audience will receive it as alien. When you're treating the language like normal, then people understand it. They get the message of the story. So just be aware of whether you're overemphasizing, because that can cause people to lose focus and to be trying to remember what they think
you're trying to tell them as important. They're trying to remember a definition that they've decided based on what you've done, and then they haven't listened to the next thing that you've done, or the next thing that you've said. So really just go with the flow of what you're meaning to say and trust the material.
Hala Taha: I think that's really great advice. And it's so eye opening to just realize how much your energy has to do with what you're communicating and how the way that you say something is so impactful to how the audience actually receives
[00:41:00] your message and that you could say the same exact words or two people could say the same exact words and the audience will read it totally differently just based on how it's presented to them.
So to me that, oh yeah, it's a really big takeaway and I haven't really thought about it like that before.
Lila Smith: People will think about what you're saying differently. Not just based on your tone, but who you are, what your context is, what they know about you or not. People will hear something differently if Gary Vaynerchuk says it, then if I say it, people will hear something differently,
if Tony Robbins says it, then if Gary Vaynerchuk says it, people will hear things differently if Oprah says it, then if Tony Robbins says it and people will hear things differently, a local business owner says something then if Oprah says something and they'll hear something differently, if their parents says it, then their husband.
And so even if the same words, even with the same intentions behind them, the context of what we know about a person or a brand or a business. That will color our experience of receiving that information.
Hala Taha: Let's talk about preparing for communication event. Do you find any value in thinking about what other people's objections might be or any obstacles that we might face while we're in this communication event?
Lila Smith: Oh yeah. If you're not prepared for what those are, then it looks like you didn't care, that you don't really understand them because objections to something that you might want to offer are very valuable because they show people that how to handle what their questions are that you respect their questions enough to be prepared for them, that that there is no cure all for anything.
And that people have a right to ask questions. So rather than minimizing them or brushing them off. And you can always say you know what, I don't know the answer to that, but I will get back to you. That's a really important question. People want to feel validated and they want to feel like you've done your work and making them feel cared for in a communication event.
Hala Taha: And so do you recommend. Let's say we're doing a
[00:43:00] presentation or even having a very formal meeting with a boss. Do you ever recommend that people script out what they want to say? Or are you more of the perspective that we should just have, like our high-level objectives and then speak from the heart? What is your recommendation there?
Lila Smith: I think if you are really strict on time, there are talks that you can give that you have a very limited amount of time and you have maybe 30 seconds exactly. Or one minute, exactly to speak. Then you want to rehearse it. But in a meeting, I think it's best to make sure you're prepared enough to speak confidently and succinctly, so that you can hit the points that you want to hit and educating yourself about, a broad range of things. Maybe making an index card with a few points you don't want to leave out or forget by accident, but if you over script something, then you take away the spontaneity of what the people in the room are showing you with
their communication is important for you to hit. Do you want to be open to what they're asking you and be able to
[00:44:00] flow with that conversation? Have you ever been on a call with a customer service agent and they are like, so desperately trying to go back to the script. They're like yes. That's very good.
I agree with what you're trying to state and then they go very formal like that, and I also want to share with you that we were the number one, like whatever, you know. I've experienced that. I've heard a lot of that. And I can tell when somebody is trying to go back to a script.
What it shows me when I hear script in someone's voice is that they're not confident talking about the subject matter and it breaks trust. It doesn't earn my trust for somebody to feel scripted.
Hala Taha: Personally, what I like to do is I tend to like to script out my presentations, but only for learning purposes.
So like I'll script it out as if this would be the perfect way to do it. And then it just helps me learn the material better so that I can do it more on the cuff when it's time to go live.
Lila Smith: Oh,
[00:45:00] I like that. Yeah. I I think rehearsal is important. Getting a sense too, like doing tests of an audience that's similar to yours.
Or, right now to like tonight, I'm going to be doing beta testing of new worksheets that I've created. And I have as a sample audience coming to work with me in person through these, I actually have a few different groups and I'm doing rehearsal and also testing. So the worksheets themselves are what I'm trying to determine.
What am I going to do with these. How valuable are they for in-person workshops? How valuable are they? Are they ready to be consumed in a book form? So I've created this material, but now it needs to be rehearsed. Like I need to see what is it going to feel like for me to present it? What is it going to feel like for other people to just read it?
So I have one focus group of people about 10 piece. Some of whom you may know are going to be reading the worksheets on their own with no additional instruction from me, other than what's on the page. And that group are people who've had some exposure to
[00:46:00] me, but I've never worked with directly so important for me to see, because that's likely the reader of my book, people who have had some exposure to me, but have never worked with me directly
are probably going to be the bulk of the, at least the initial wave of readers of a book. So I'm looking to get that information from that kind of analogous audience. Tonight in person, I'm rehearsing. What is this? If I have an in-person audience of people that either have worked with me before, or they know me really well, they're pretty familiar with this.
Do they get more deeper value out of an in-person workshop with the same worksheet? And conversation, what kind of things come up? So I think it's really important to do that too, to try things out, give yourself the opportunity to see what things are like, and then you'll be better prepared for when they come up.
Hala Taha: Totally. Sticking on preparing for a conversation or communication event. How about
[00:47:00] getting confident before you have to speak? What is your perspective on that? Do you have any tips around that?
Lila Smith: Yeah. If you're speaking about things that you are actually an expert in, then you probably will be more confident.
You can do your prep work to make sure that you have some new information to give people. People are always looking for something they haven't heard before. So if you make sure that there is stuff like that, then you can be confident that you have something of value when you rehearse your material, you can, can see, are there things that people think are valuable that I didn't even realize before?
So doing that preparation is hugely important for building confidence. And then even if you are not confident in a moment, the worst thing you can do is walk onstage like an apology. You never walk on stage like an apology where people are like, oh gosh, now I have to take care of them and give them a certain kind of reaction to make them feel comfortable.
You want to make them feel, them being the audience that you're there to take care of them. And that's the
[00:48:00] confidence when you know that you're there with something that is rich a value that will help them in some way. Then it feels less like you're trying to sell them. It feels less like you have anything to apologize for.
Even if you trip and fall and break a tooth on your way up, you say, I'm going to go get my tooth fixed, be right back. Like then you can come back with your tooth fixed and be like all set. So thanks so much for coming. Here's what I have to explain to you. If you make a big deal about that, if you spend valuable time that you could be educating your audience, with on apologizing for being there.
How are you going to instill confidence in them that they should take action based on what you've said?
Hala Taha: Totally.
Lila Smith: It'll just never happen. So you just being prepared with the value and then not spending too much time focusing on whether there are mistakes or errors or technology that doesn't work. Another thing I will tell people, this is just a practical tip.
If you are planning a presentation or a talk
[00:49:00] that relies heavily on tech elements like PowerPoint or slides of some kind or multimedia, unless it is a multimedia showcase and you're there specifically to show your creative work, then you have to be prepared to give your talk without it, tech malfunctions all the time.
You'll be confident with your material. If you've prepared it. And that the tech is an additional element, not the central element. You need your material to be the central element.
Hala Taha: That's a great point. Okay. Let's talk about speaking more eloquently. So millennials like myself have a problem with saying things like, so unlike too much, this is like my number one biggest problem.
So tell me, do you have any advice on how to stop saying so, and so much?
Lila Smith: I don't know that you really have to, it doesn't bother me. I'm wanna, I'm a millennial, so I'm listening to you and I'm hearing you in a voice that sounds very much like mine. And so it doesn't really bother
[00:50:00] me as much. It depends on who you're talking to, but I do feel that filler words can take away from the value of what you're saying.
If you find that you're saying them when you're searching for your words, which is usually what we're doing when we say so. When we say, which is one of mine when we use those filler words, it's that we're searching for the words that we really want to say, let it go. You're never going to find the perfect words.
There will always be better ones that you can determine later, but unless you are writing something out, you're never going to have the perfect words all the time. Give yourself a second, take a breath, slow down. Find the words that are suitable enough for the moment. Because no one else is going to remember them anyway.
We're all very interesting, but no one is interesting enough to memorize.
Hala Taha: Yeah. Yeah. That's good advice.
Lila Smith: People are not going to be paying attention later. They're going to say, oh, I heard this really interesting thing and I may be remembered one or two points from it. But no one is going to remember the exact words that you
Hala Taha: It's a good point. I find that I do better with the, if I write down different adjectives to use, because for the most part, is in replace of some other word that you're, like you mentioned that you're trying to search for. So I'll try to think of other words to use sometimes.
Lila Smith: Oh yeah. Vocabulary's a nice trick.
Hala Taha: Be sure that you have a vocabulary.
Lila Smith: Yeah. Maybe read the dictionary. I don't know. That is important to prepare, like writing down some points ahead of time will help you.
Hala Taha: Yeah, totally. There's a famous saying from Aristotle, it goes, tell them what you're going to tell them, and then tell them what you told them.
And most people have an intention span of about eight seconds, the same as a goldfish. So what's your perspective on over-communicating. Do you agree with that strategy?
Lila Smith: I do because we hear things in stages. You want to hook their attention in at the beginning. So you want something clever or you want something compelling.
You want people at the
[00:52:00] beginning of what you're saying to understand what you're about to give them as information. And I've just done it. I said, people want to hear at the beginning, and then I went into a little bit more detail or a couple of more words. And so the middle part is about giving people a story, giving them an experience of it, giving them an example.
That's going to drive a point home. And then at the end, you want to sum up for them because they're now lost in that story. They're still experiencing it, what you want them to take away from it. So you get their attention, you use their attention to instill a point. And then you want to drive it home so that they can take it away with them.
Hala Taha: Yeah. So the last question that we ask all our listeners is what is your secret to profiting in life?
Lila Smith: Oh my gosh. I think when I think of profiting, I really think of you don't by definition of success and all of our, because I, I can make as much money as I want, but what am I going to use it for?
[00:53:00] so making sure that I'm budgeting my time and my expenses around things that are aligned with my values. I did a values exercise to determine what my top values are as part of my youmap. And I'm a certified EMAP coach myself so that I can help people understand themselves before I actually helped them talk about what they do and what they bring to it.
So understanding where my values are means I can tell if I am spending my money, my time, my energy in the right place, my top values are love and connection, community, communication, fun, special-ness, diversity, meaningful work, creativity, acknowledgement, and making a difference. So if I'm spending money on,
for me like material things like stuff that I think is cute that I'd like to have. I can be surrounded by many piles of things I've
[00:54:00] spent that money on, but none of that is aligned with my values, really, unless it's creativity in the way that I dress, that only goes so far, I have these top 10 values.
So if I'm spending my money, time, resources, attention, energy on those things that are valuable to me, then I will feel rich everyday.
Hala Taha: That's wonderful. That's so great. I love that. And where can our listeners go to find more about you and everything that you do?
Lila Smith: Find me at saythingsbetter.com. Finds me on Instagram @lilalasagna and find me on LinkedIn at Lila Smith.
Hala Taha: Awesome. I've really enjoyed this conversation. I think we had a lot of great tips for communication and I hope my listeners enjoyed it too.
Lila Smith: Thank you so much for having me.
Hala Taha: Thanks for listening to young and profiting podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, don't forget to leave us a review or comment on your favorite platform.
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[00:55:00] youngandprofiting.com. And now you can chat live with us every single day on YAP society on slack. Check out our show notes at youngandprofiting.com for the registration link. And if you're already active on YAP, share the wealth and invite your friends.
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Big thanks to YAP team as always. Stay blessed and I'll catch you next time. This is Hala, signing off.
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