IAM2144 – Trainer and Coach Helps Clients Blossom into Credible and Engaging Speakers

Podcast Interview with Jeff Hornstein

In this episode, we have Jeff Hornstein, founder of The Speaker's Choice, which focuses on audience understanding, confidence building, and intense training with video feedback. He shares his journey from engineer to public speaking coach, helping professionals improve communication skills.
Jeff discusses the certification process for facilitators and the impact of programs like Landmark Education on personal growth and development. His passion for helping others improve their communication skills and build meaningful relationships was evident.
Jeff explores the importance of certification for facilitators and speakers and explains the rigorous process he went through to become certified, and stresses the significance of facilitators exhibiting the qualities they teach.

The conversation highlights the importance of clarity in direction and expectations, as well as the value of transparency and trust within a team.

Website: The Speaker’s Choice
Facebook: The Speaker’s Choice
LindkedIn: Jeff Hornstein

Previous Episode: iam116-trainer-and-coach-helps-clients-blossom-into-credible-and-engaging-speakers

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Jeff Hornstein Teaser 00:00

Here's a handful of lists of phrases that people typically suggest or ask about.

And they'll say, I need to be perceived as confidence, engaging, inspiring, and perhaps the really, one of the most common ones is credible with this particular audience. So how are we going to get there?

Intro 00:13
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview. If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.
Gresham Harkless 00:41
Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast, and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Jeff Hornstein of The Speaker's Choice. Jeff, it is awesome to have you on the show.
Jeff Hornstein 00:51
Gresh, it's awesome that you've given me the opportunity to talk with your community too, so I very much appreciate it.
Gresham Harkless 00:41
Me too. Me too. And, what I wanted to do was just get the show started and then hear, I guess, a little bit more about your CEO story and what led you to start your business.
Jeff Hornstein 01:03
Sure. You bet. It's, it's gonna be a weird route as I take you through this. But to start out with, let me just say to you and your community, I am a recovering engineer.
Gresham Harkless 01:12
Jeff Hornstein 01:12
Believe it or not, I'm a recovering engineer. Alright. So how did that happen out of all of the things that we're gonna talk about here? So a long time ago, let's say when I was in undergrad or actually when I got out of undergrad, I had the real fortune of finding a job in the engineering world because that's where I started. And it was a really cool technology. I liked it a lot for a while. And then at some point, I got really, really bored. I thought, man, I don't wanna be sitting on a cubicle doing CAD CAM work the rest of my life.
So I started talking to a mentor of mine who was at the engineering company, and I asked him one day, said, do you like what you do? And he said, I love what I do. Dang. How did you figure that out? Because I don't. And he emphatically suggested that I go do a personal growth workshop. So I said, sign me up, brother. Where is it? How do I get there? Whatever he thought. I took his advice.
And really, this is the truth, within a matter of a couple of days of participating in this personal growth program, I've got super clarity about, wow. I really don't wanna be an engineer. I wanna be a coach or a teacher or a consultant or a speaker. There's something in that realm that would help people be more effective in the way they communicate.
So from having that epiphany to trying to figure out, okay, so if I have that thought and I'm an engineer, how in the world am I gonna transition from an engineer to being some kind of communication expert? Well, I started to dig around, and I heard a colleague of mine talk about something called organization development.
And I had no idea what that person was talking about when they said something about organization development. So I started looking around essentially for jobs that might fit the desires that I had. And about a year or so into perusing, I came across an ad that had my credentials all over.
It was pretty freaky. I showed it to my wife and I said, take a look at this this advertisement or this posting for this particular career. So it talks about all kinds of things all in the realm of need to have three to five years of platform experience. And for those of you in the that are listening to the recording, you may not know what I mean by that.
But platform experience essentially is instead of someone or people sitting around in a group at conference table standing up in front of the room in front of x number of people, whether it's 10 people or 10,000 people. That's what we're talking about when we talk about that.
So I ended up getting the job. The oh, the very last sentence or two of that posting said engineering a plus. So I showed it to my wife, and I got the chills. And I thought, holy cow, this is for me. This is mine. I'm gonna get this job. And I did.
Well, we both got the job. Worked at this communications company and loved it. For somewhere, I don't know, five to seven years or so, it felt like there was there wasn't a job. It felt like it was it was a joy. It was a dream to go travel around, teach people how to deal with the fear of public speaking or help them become more effective and more confident and more engaging.
And did it well and then got promoted and then got promoted a little bit more. And so my promotional opportunities were really terrific. And the issue that occurred for me as time went on was I became very administrative.
So my opportunities to work with the clients had to get restrained and reduced because I had to do what I had to do. And at some point I thought, you know what? This is not why I got into the communications field. It's not to be administrative and and do all that. It's to engage clients and help them deal with their challenges.
So through a long circuitous route, a colleague of mine, an executive coach, called me and said, hey. Do you still work for that old company, or did you start your own business yet? And I said, well, well, that's a really interesting question to ask.
She said, tell me more. Or I said, tell me more. And she said, well, I have a handful of computer engineers that work for a big Fortune 500 company. They're super smart folks, and they have to deliver their updates and their value proposition to the executive leadership team as to why they should be promoted or why they should take themselves to that next level.
And she said, they're scared to death. They're really, really bad at it. And I told them, I got a guy. So she said, so he want the gig. And I said, well, I think so, but hold on a second. Let's talk about this a little bit more. So we spent literally it was probably two and a half to three hours on the phone. And by the time that phone call ended, I said, okay. I just started my own company.
So she said to me, do me a favor. Give me your company name as soon as possible. I said, okay. Okay. I did. So that's where the whole thing started.
Gresham Harkless 05:34
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I love that story. And I know we talked a little bit offline on that high, how the engineering turned into a public speaker, and how so many people struggle with the engineers and not even engineers struggle with public speaking. And I think we even talked about how it's like the second fear after death, for a lot of people to be able to stand up in front of 20 people or 2,000 people to be able to speak. So it's awesome that the universe seems to directed you that way but also that you took hold of it and went with it as well and are helping out so many people.
Jeff Hornstein 06:01
Yeah. It was a it was a really neat circumstance, a set of circumstances that occurred for me to transition from something that I got bored with quickly to something that I really fell in love with. So, yeah, it was it was really, really neat experiences that occurred for me.
Gresham Harkless 06:16
Yeah. Definitely, definitely sounds like it. So now I wanted to drill down a little bit deeper to hear how you're helping out these people with public speaking order some of the things that  you doing you gotta help support your clients.
Jeff Hornstein 06:24
When they typically come to us from whatever route they take to get there, they're usually in a state of warrior concern. And it's typically around a big presentation that they're going to have to deliver in certain period of time, whether they get a really short notice and they've got two days to be prepared or get ready for a big presentation or two months or perhaps even longer.
Obviously, if the duration between when they've been told when that occurs, when they've been told that they have to deliver a presentation in the face, the phone rings pretty quickly. So what we'll do is try to get super clarity as best we can about what they're going to need to present on and what their content is.
And we'll typically start there by asking them, start just share with me what your experience is about what you're gonna have to deal with and who you're gonna have to talk to and, most importantly, who is your audience?
So we get them to really purge as as much as they can about who their audience is, what is it their audience needing to hear about, what information do they need to stand clear from and not press? Like, any hot buttons that they hopefully know that the audience doesn't wanna hear about? What are the real important components that the audience does need to hear about?
So they'll we'll do a really in-depth thorough assessment for them to help them get super clarity about the audience so that when they start to build their message, it's tailored to that particular group in an effective way.
So once they get clarity about that and we help them with their content and how they structure and organize their content if they need that support. If they do we'll handle that. And once they get clear about that, then we start digging into the skill building process.
And that skill building is all around helping their clients or helping our clients get to a place of being able to exhibit and demonstrate when they're up in front of the room. Here's a handful list of phrases that they'll typically suggest or ask about.
They'll say, I need to be perceived as confident, engaging, inspiring, and perhaps the really one of the most common ones is credible with this particular audience. So how are we gonna get there? We do very intense video recording and video feedback.
We will get if it's a one-on-one client that we're working with, we'll get them up in front of the room and and we may work together for half a day, perhaps even a full day if they have the the energy to work for a full day. And in the case of when someone's got a presentation that's gonna be that they need to deliver in in the next two, three days, we're spending the entire day together, and we're working through it.
And so when we do the video recording, we're trying to assess, are they, as they're talking and perhaps working the room and delivering their content, are they demonstrating and exhibiting those components that they said they want to match up with?
So in other words, if they said that they wanna be perceived as credible and confident, let's say, we'll do the video recording, play it back, and ask, do you think you look confident? Do you sound like you're engaging and passionate? And oftentimes, they'll make comments about it and they'll say, heck, no.
Unfortunately, I don't. What do I do? And that's where we start digging in. We start putting in some course correction for them through obviously another assessment with the video. And we'll continue the process and assess for them the components of what they're saying and doing that's not working for them, and then we'll shift over to talking to them about what they're currently doing that is working for them. And we'll tell them all those things that you said that you're doing or that you wanted and you are doing currently, they're awesome.
Don't change them. Some of the things that you're doing that's having us struggle a little bit as audience members, we really need to remove those from the content that you're gonna deliver and how you're gonna deliver it.
And then we're gonna suggest adding on some additional things, all designed to make sure that they're being perceived along the lines of what they're searching for. And the process is pretty intense. It's not a quick hit, especially if those like myself as a recovering engineer, those of us that have that analytic orientation typically struggle with these kinds of things a lot more than those that have a very extroverted, very gregarious personality and don't have that analytical mindset.
Folks that have more of that creative and engaging mindset typically not always, but typically have an easier time picking up on the skills and exhibiting them quickly.
Gresham Harkless 10:36
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, I appreciate you for, obviously doing that to help out the clients. And now I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce, and this could be something that you feel kinda distinguishes you or your organization.
Jeff Hornstein 10:41
There are two things that come to mind for sure. One is our certification process to get new facilitators as they we bring them on board to get them to a place where we, or I'll say I as the CEO, I will agree that that facilitator is now ready to get up in front of the room on their own and deliver the program.
And I'll talk more about that in just a second. And the second piece is what we would call ruthless compassion. So let me dig into the the certification process first. When when I was going through that transition from engineering to communication and found a big communication company that I had mentioned that I had worked with for 5, 6, 7 years, in order to get hired as a facilitator and speaker, it was a grueling process that took anywhere between 6 to 12 months before someone was anointed, if you will, or given the the opportunity where we said, okay. This person is certified.
So that process, I don't know of anybody else that has and spends as much time making certain that the facilitators are exhibiting exactly what we're teaching. So let me back up for just a second and reinforce why this first piece of it is the the certification process is such a big deal. Let's say I bring somebody in and we tell them, okay.
So stand up in front of the room and let's see what you got. Talk to us for a couple of minutes here. Cold. If there's someone that's a facilitator and they say that they've got significant experience in teaching people how to deal with the fear of public speaking and presenting. And we'll look at them and we'll listen to them.
And in many cases, when we've invited big groups of people to come to our open houses and have them each stand up one at a time and deliver two minutes of content, we critique. And unfortunately, when we looked at on paper what the majority of the people that we've taken through these open enrollment sessions, their certification or excuse me, their qualifications are all really, really strong.
But then when we see how they look and sound when they deliver information, almost all the time there's been a huge mismatch. So the challenge is a lot of the the candidates that thought they were really good at what they were doing couldn't exhibit or demonstrate the presentations their presentation skills that they needed to deliver.
So the tough part about it is they think they're good. We assess and look and say, no. They're not. I can't take that person right there who we just listened to and have them be up in front of our clients. Because if we're teaching presentation skills and we can't exhibit or model the skills for them, we'd look like a fraud.
So that's that's my stake in the ground with what we have to have happen is we can't allow any any facilitator, I don't care how good they think they are, if they can't pass certification for us, then we can't put them in front of the room. We can do other things perhaps and have them be in different departments for us, but not be a a skilled facilitator that we would say that's what you gotta look in someone. Now let me back up for a second and make sure I'm super clear about what you have to look and sound like.
Gresham Harkless 13:39
And Jeff, I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. And this could be an app, a book, or habit that you have, but it's something that makes you more effective and efficient as a business owner.
Jeff Hornstein 13:49
Yeah. This is a simple one, no doubt. Without exception, it was me participating in that program that I mentioned that my mentor told me to go to. And the name of that program was called Landmark Education. Changed my life, changed my business, changed everything.
Gresham Harkless 14:04
Awesome. Awesome. So, yeah, I love that. I've heard a lot of great things about Landmark. It's great that you were able to benefit from that. And now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this might be a word of wisdom or piece of advice, but it's something that you might tell your younger business self.
Jeff Hornstein 14:16
Yeah. Number 1, be as clear as you possibly can be around direction and expectations for sure. We found throughout the years that when that's not in place, that creates big problems.
The other one is seek feedback and ideas from your team and really, really genuinely consider their ideas, what they tell you about. You may be surprised. We find that sometimes we're surprised at what people come up with. So in a minimum, make sure you're giving them airtime.
Gresham Harkless 14:43
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. And now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition for what it means to be a CEO, and we're hoping to have different unquote CEOs on the show. So what does being a CEO mean to you?
Jeff Hornstein 14:53
Well, like several of your guests, I took a peek at some of the some of the videos that they had. Very similar. Very similar. Right? So I think instantly also about Fortune 500 companies and phrases like charting the course, setting the tone, being a leader, empowering the team, those kind of things.
The biggest one of all for me is being transparent. When we can reveal things to our team that we can reveal, we do. There's always gonna be some times when we can't reveal things, like if there's a termination coming up or some impending change, we can. So the just to reinforce, when we can exhibit transparency, do it. And why do it? Most importantly, because it builds trust amongst everybody in the team.
Gresham Harkless 15:33
Yeah. I love that definition. I think a lot of times, like you said, when you have the opportunity to be transparent and show who you are, it also develops a stronger connection. It seems like so, Jeff, I truly appreciate you for taking some time out of your schedule. What I wanted to do was pass you to the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and our listeners know, and also how best people can get a hold of you.
Jeff Hornstein 15:52
Most importantly, I wanna give you a big thanks for giving me the opportunity to be part of your community here. And so thank you for doing that. And your community, if they do wanna reach out to us, we'd we'd love to connect with you. So the name of our company is The Speaker's Choice. So www.thespeakerschoice, or you could email me personally at jeff@thespeakerschoice.com.
Gresham Harkless 16:13
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, I appreciate you so much, Jeff. And what I'll do is, we'll make sure we have those links in the show notes just so that anybody can click through and follow-up with you. But, again, I appreciate you for everything that you're doing and taking some time out of your schedule, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.
Jeff Hornstein 16:26
Thanks so much, Gresh. You too. Appreciate it.
Outro 16:27
Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by CBNation and Blue16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase. It's a community. Don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation at blue16media.com. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless Jr. Thank you for listening.
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Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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