E41. From the Church to the Stage and Back with Malachi Talabi
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Francisco Mahfuz 0:00
Hi everyone, Francisco here. Just before we get started, I wanted to share something I'm really excited about. I recently launched the story powers bootcamp, a course that teaches you everything you need to know about how to find craft and tell stories that work. But it's not just an online course, because you get personalised feedback from me for all the practical activities in three hours of life coaching to work through any challenges, or focus on specific projects. So it's like if you bought a cookbook, but the chef came along with it. So go to story powers.com and click on Course, all the information you need will be there. So please check it out. And if you love the show, and would like to support us, you can go to buy me a coffee.com forward slash story powers. I drink about five coffees a day, so any support would be much appreciated. All right on with the show.
Welcome to the story powers podcast, the show about the power of stories, the people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco mahfuz. My guest today is Molokai talebi. Molokai is the 2011, UK and Ireland Toastmasters International speech champion. And that year, he placed third in the world semi final in Vegas. He has been certified as a world class speaking coach by the great Craig Valentine, and is the author of smash it with a story. But I'm not funny, and public speaking hacks. Today. Malaka helps entrepreneurs and leaders tell unforgettable stories and give profitable presentations. He's also the only person I know who goes to church talks about sex is still invited back. There is a gentleman by like a the lobby. Okay, welcome to the show. Whoa,
Malachi Talabi 1:54
I have to get an intro. I need to book you, as an emcee to bring me on every single time I speak. Fantastic intro. Glad to be here. You don't know this. When I got the opportunity to come on this podcast. I was like, Yes, I went to my wife. I said promise mine was finally arrived. I'm on the power. Because I see the calibre of guests that you have. And I'm like, these are big players, you know, you you only bring in people that you know can add value to the audience as a yes, it's like a dream come true. So actually, you might think this is a small thing. But for me, I'm like, Yes, I want to speak to someone who knows the power of story. And I know he's got an audience you're hungry to find out more about storytelling and just generally how they can give good presentation. So thank you for having me on here.
Francisco Mahfuz 2:43
know obviously I wanted to have you on you know, we've we've spoke spoken a lot on social media about about storytelling. And and I'm, I'm sorry, if actually being on the podcast and seeing that, you know, I'm recording this in my daughter's room to round that by pillows, this bicycle come across as less glamorous than the the view from the outside was, but I'm sure we have plenty to talk about. And the first thing I wanted to, to ask you is that I know that you want some some awards in public speaking. And the very first award you won, or this the the biggest award you won was that national one. And that was only I think you said something like you've had only been speaking in this type of, you know, sort of more professional way for like nine months or something.
Malachi Talabi 3:36
So I dove into Toastmasters. I didn't want to go my wife had said to me, Oh, she found Toastmasters on a computer. And she said you should join a lot. I didn't know that people got paid for public speaking. And I didn't know that people trained in public speaking like it was something that people had to be trained to do. Yeah, I just spoke and I ignored her. So like that's silly like Toastmasters. I find that kind of nerdy, like change the speak and you just speak then I think the next day I was in church and I was leaving. I didn't want to be there as if there was a football match on so I wanted to leave and a guy like he's like a black version of Sir Alan Sugar could just very businesslike smart and he's an American, I'm how're you doing? I said I'm fine. And he said, you know, what have you been up to? I said nothing much. I said, What have you been up to? He said, I've been making a lot of money. And I was like, you I mean money that got me interested in a conversation. So I said, How have you been doing it? And he said, I first thing I did was I joined an organisation called Toastmasters. Now, the thing about is my wife was standing next to me when he said that. And it was like he said, You and Toastmasters. My wife saying join Toastmasters. I'm in church. I felt like God was saying join Toastmasters. I joined and I think I actually I didn't like it. I was there. It was weird for me. People will just cap in and stuff like that. But I promised myself I'm gonna do my first 10 manuals and when it got to the place of my temps beach. I just went there and they said, Oh, you can't speak today. Because it's competition then I was like, Ah, man, it's competition. They are no actually not Francesca was my third speech. On my first speech, it was the humorous competition, humorous speech contest. And I just wanted to get in there and get out. So they said, you have to enter the competition. I did a humorous speech contest. I won. Then Arthur winning the human speech contest, that guy comes up to the stage and says, oh, there's a next round. In on Saturday, I went to the next round, I won again. So I was like this area champion. Will these Toastmasters give me a host of I went to the semifinals, the human speech contest on the two weeks later. And during the break, a woman came up to me and said, Melaka, like, you're quite funny, but I think you're good enough to win the international speech contest. So you should enter. And I was like, Yeah, I didn't place in the humorous contest in the semi final. I ended up entering the international speech contest in I think, was it in March or so. And I just spoke on one on one on one on one on one, I'm gonna be honest, Francesco, when the announcer said, and the UK national public speaking champion is Molokai Telavi. It felt like how, and then when I went to Vegas, and a police burden across me find that a guy who won my semi final came second in the world. Again, I left Vegas, like how and then I started to get people asking me to speak at conferences and workshops and things like that. And I was petrified, not because I was scared of speaking. But I didn't actually know what was good about my speaking. So I had to do about three months of reflection. And I found that that one thing that I was doing in every presentation was telling stories. So that's how I found kind of like storytelling. So if anyone wants to be in a place where they say, I don't know how to speak in public, I don't know what to do. And I know it might sound cliche, but what for me was nine months of story, all I did was get up instinctively, I didn't have a blueprint, I didn't have anything like that. All I did was get up and tell a story, how I went from being like, kind of there's racial abuse and poverty and all of this stuff. And it just identified with people. So for me, I always say the best speakers are the best storytellers. And the best storytellers are the best speakers. So if you want to start, like storytelling is the thing that birthed my entrance into public speaking.
Francisco Mahfuz 7:22
Listen, I'm gonna, obviously come back to the storytelling part. But there's some things in there that I wanna, I wanna, I want to pick apart. So first of all, I mean, I'm pretty sure that anyone who listens to this podcast knows what Toastmasters is, but as you said, it's an organisation. It's a public speaking organisation. And you said, you know, I didn't like it. I thought it was very nerdy, but it is very nerdy. It is never ending it. And I say this without necessarily being too detrimental, but it's very, very American, right. And it's like the clapping, and it's like this artificial positivity that in Toastmasters has, but the reality of it is, it is very positive. I mean, people are super constrained, super supportive. And they're very, the feedback is always constructive. So the one thing that, you know, you said something about Toastmasters the other day on social media, and someone came in and said, Oh, I know, I came in, and I didn't like it. And I thought it. Almost everything that everybody says about Toastmasters as a criticism is true. But what's also true is that it's a very supportive environment to practice public speaking, and learn. And it's also one of the only places I know that you could genuinely be talking every week, if not every day of the week. Because it's set up for that. Then someone says, I want to become a better speaker, but I do not want to join Toastmasters. So, okay, well, I'm not quite sure where you're going to practice. I know there are other clubs that are opportunities to speak and things and things of that nature. But I just haven't really, you know, I just don't know, I find it difficult to to see where you where exactly, you'd be doing this, if it wasn't for Toastmasters. And the other thing, which I think is interesting is, in a way, you're very lucky, because Toastmaster rules say that you need to have had three speeches already or four speeches before you can compete. So you know, had you gotten there, you know, there, you wouldn't have competed at all. Yeah. And the other point that I think it's also interesting is because you were so new, I guess you hadn't been doing evaluations now, which is you know, so for someone who doesn't know those masters, what part of the meeting is improv improvised? Then you have prepared speeches and then you have evaluation. So you do a speech and then someone goes up there and says, Okay, Molokai, you've done this really well. These are the things you can improve on. So anyone who's been a Toastmasters for a while, would have been doing evaluations which also makes you a lot more aware of the things you are doing well and should make you aware of the things you're doing well on the things you need to improve on. It's I think it's interesting the idea that you competed and did quite well competing without having that developed yet because you know, you're looking at your speech and going, is this good? I'm not sure. I guess I'm gonna find out soon.
Malachi Talabi 10:17
Yeah, just that whole, just freedom that I just want to, I just want to speak, I don't want to know the value, I didn't want to do anything. I just want to get in that get out. I'm only here because I feel like I have to be here. So many coincidences and things like that. Maybe I'm gonna do it. And I didn't, I wouldn't say consciously, but I didn't let anything. You know, you have to pause here you have to, I didn't really as soon as I spoke, I kind of left the club. I just wanted to get over and done with. So I think that sometimes, if you have too much feedback, it can over refine you. And they talk about you know, use your hands in a chopping motion and you become robotic. And to be honest, I had to unlearn some things that I just wouldn't. It felt uncomfortable to stand before a paying audience or a professional audience doing some things that are very, like you said before theatrical in your body language. And you mentioned like with Toastmasters, if you're kind of new to public speaking or you've got a message, you want to refine a free, very, almost basically free audience giving you feedback that you can even feel I've seen professional speakers go to do a Toastmaster workshop and film the workshop and use it as a do something to prove that they've got they had stage time, you know, so they were on stage. And that's really good because it is a legitimate audience, or things like a humorous presentation. If you want to go out there and kind of test your content. And you literally just have you can see what the audience how they react, how to respond. Well, you want to refine the joke. So I think Toastmasters. Definitely, if you're working on content, and you want free kind of audience feedback is priceless.
Francisco Mahfuz 11:57
I guess that the biggest obstacle with because because it's very easy to criticise Toastmasters, and a lot of people do, including including us. But I've been I've been a member now for almost 10 years. And there's no question that the the feedback on content is very valuable. And even though I have been speaking for a long time, like you have competed, I've won some stuff. But I still find that I it's rare that I don't get any type in this one piece of feedback or advice that I I kind of forgot, right? You know, I go there. And I did a speech a few weeks ago, and I did this whole thing on, I actually probably will record it and put it on the podcast. But I did this whole thing on the history of vaccination and the anti Vax movements. And I mean, it's a it's a super interesting story. And I made sure there was some humour in there. And then someone gave me feedback that is feedback that I know because I put it on my book and I stoled everyone which is it needs to be personal. Now I don't even if it is, how is my interaction with the subject? How did I find out about this in I could have done that in probably will do it if I record it in two or three lines to say this is why I'm talking about this this is why it matters to me Francisco and not to you know, every single person and sometimes you forget stuff like that. So I I also think that's the focus that a lot of public speaking coaches and definitely Toastmasters has, with body language and the delivery side of things you know, your voice in your in your body and your hands and your stage movement. My feeling is that those things are much easier to master in the beginning, then teaching someone content because you can make someone who was super super nervous, look confident on stage and walk the road you know, walking away that seems confident and you know, the old gestures and everything. It's a lot harder to get a person that is not a good writer, you know, doesn't struggle to identify stories. I think teaching someone to be a significantly better speech writer is way harder than teaching someone to sort of look the part on stage. It does go a bit too far. And that becomes a focus that is not overly relevant. But I think that if they've made the the focus a lot more about content right at the beginning, you wouldn't have a lot of the easy wins that you have for people that are not natural in Yes, I'm gonna hazard a guess here that a lot of stuff came naturally to you because I've seen you speak and I know this stuff that you do that is not something you've been taught at Toastmasters like for example, you do voices you have I am crap at that. I can just go you know, my daughter's voice is Daddy, can you but I cannot do accents to save my life. But you definitely can.
Malachi Talabi 14:52
So uh, you're right. I think one of my mentor always told me as soon as I met Craig Valentine, he said, public speaking is 10 percent talent 90% tools. And before I got into Toastmasters unconsciously, I've been speaking in my life, all my life, my mom maybe present at parties. And, you know, I think I had some time they told me to do announcements at church. So I've been speaking at the new release things, all of my life school plays. So when it comes, I've never been kind of afraid to speak in public. So to a degree, maybe that's why for my first speech, I've always only had positive feedback. But I now know that I probably would have ended up being a run of the mill, Pentecostal Christian preacher who can tell a good story and then say, hallelujah, you know, things like that, if I hadn't learned things like, you know, the rule of free is the little is a little nuggets, the rule of free or, you know, when you squeeze your information in, you're squeezing the audience out, because people digest things at different paces, or causing, you know, all these little conflict in a story. And bringing it forward to the early parts of the story. If I didn't learn all of these things, I think I would have still got a generally good response. Okay, he's interesting, but to take it to a level where when I can kind of support people with what they want to do, but also I can now say, this is something that people would pay for. And it's not just a guy with the gift of the gab, who's saying some stuff who is good at persuasion. And I think that just having those elements, you know, books like your book, you know, way where someone can come to your book and look at and say, Hey, this is how to structure a presentation. This is how to tell a story. It's not just jumping up on stage and saying a few words, there's actually an art and a science to storytelling. So I think that has come to refine because there's a guy called Philip compone. Who came second in the UK. I mean, the world and he's the highest place person in the UK bar in one woman, I think was one and he saw me speak and he came up to me afterwards, he said Molokai like one thing I have to tell you, you're very talented, but you're not trained. And he is only of all the Toastmaster feedback I got well done. Melaka you're this you're that you're great as one person who, who was a professional speaker, who got paid to speak, you know, he's been around the world travelling across the world speaking and saying, Hey, but I see a talent in you. But there's there's there's no skill to it, you'll just off the cuff run of the mill. And I think that having an environment where it's Toastmasters, whether it's fantastical this podcast, or but we are picking up these little nuances and science of speaking you could add that to you, to your speaking is actually a game changer.
Francisco Mahfuz 17:38
I think the challenge with being trained, is what you're being trained on. Because one of the most one of the most jarring things you can do if you've been into the you know, once you started getting familiar with this public speaking world is most people's exposure to that nowadays is Ted Ted Talks. And and by by Toastmaster standards. Most top speakers are not great speakers by Toastmaster standards because they are not technically proficient. But in most people, they are good. But most people standard, they're good speakers. And I would argue that if you take if you look at professional speakers, you know the people who are genuinely getting paid to do this and getting feedback and getting back going back to do it. I mean, if you've watched them speak for an hour, a lot of them seem some sort of strange mix of a stand up comedian, and some person who knows a lot of stuff and has not really done a great deal of speaking. But again, if you're coming from, from a technique point of view, now there's this guy, I think is incredible. And is you know, well known to be one of the best professional speakers in the world called Scott Stratton. And you know, I can send you one of His keynotes. It's a stand up half of it, like stand up comedy, and then he's talking about marketing. And he's talking about stuff. Put him next to to you know, the guy who again who you know, interviewed you, I think was his name was Mark back now. Right so so we're gonna finish second in the Toastmaster in second in the world. Now I why I started watching that speech. And I didn't make it through it. Because it's so theatrical. That doesn't really work outside of that environment
Malachi Talabi 19:22
is you know, what is amazing is that exact same sentence you had about that last time I was having quite well in, in Toastmasters in the UK. Like he's, he's the guy like, oh, Simon, you know, especially it's coming second. I think the first time he years ago, He's competed and became like, second in the semi final. And I watched like when I found that Simon came second in the world. I'm like, Whoa, and I went to watch the speech. And similarly, I know it's an old speech he gave like 10 Five years ago, but he's, it came second. And like you said you you're like okay, there's a difference between a contest speech and a professional speech and you can see it and with the professional speakers you said a huge mix between humour and then content. And one woman, I met with my secondary and she said Molokai, and she probably set me free. She said, Malika, you're in Toastmasters, you're good. She said, she said, you want to master anything. These are the two pillars of public speaking, storytelling and humour. And I bought a book by Joanna slam, I believe it's called. And it's called telling. I'm telling stories with humour. And I read that first book, I think I read on public speaking, but that was a storytelling and human that's like the, I've got something called the presentation pyramid. And I talk about how, in this pyramid, like the base of the pyramid is the biggest part for me of public speaking is is storytelling, a bone. And then above storytelling, I put metaphors when above metaphors that you've got humour. And then in that new middle top part of the pyramid is phrases. And then on the edge of the pyramid, you've got interaction, and questions or question in the audience. And if you wrap your presentation around those things that you think I'm going to make this point, I'll use a metaphor, I'm going to make this point I'll use a story, I'm going to make this point, I'll use a phrase, I'm going to make this point, I'll use some humour and mix in the questioning. And the interaction then, generally, is a, like a nice presentation. So those two pillars, especially in the professional world, a lot of them have had stand up comedy training. And what I did mean with my mentor, Craig, he's the most conversational speaker, but I sort of know. And because I was trying to go into the keynote world and click workshop, I just knew in myself that my contest winning speech, I could not deliver it in front of a professional audience. I couldn't buy it. It was too
Francisco Mahfuz 21:49
What was that speech, by the way, because I couldn't find it online. So what was the what was the main story or what was the more or less the idea of the speech I gave
Malachi Talabi 21:57
a speech was growing up in a racist area in Bermondsey, and I was racially abused by someone my mum was poor, my dad wasn't with me. And just my journey about how I kept on walking through racism through poverty, through my dad returning and not being impressed with my exam results. And the message was just keep on walking, keep on walking, keep on walking. And that was the title of the speech was keep on walking. And then I told I told a mini story phrase, keep on walking mini story phrase, mini story phrase, and then at the end, I just called back Yeah, I
Francisco Mahfuz 22:33
forget what the rhetorical device for that now, but that's one of my that's one of my favourites when I'm when I'm doing like Toastmasters style speeches. Like I did one, one of the last ones I did before everything shut down. I was I had just had my second child and everything was not ideal. And I think the line was something like, you know, I love my children. But I don't always love my life as a parent. And that kept coming back over and over. Yeah, so I'm very lucky, I guess, because I am fully aware that stories should be personal. And whenever I tell stories about my life, they they're automatically humorous because I keep having all this ridiculous stuff happened. Yeah, I don't need to I don't need to be looking for humorous stories. It's just like, so you're telling a personal story? Yeah, I'm taking a talk talking about my inner my failed first marriage or my task or divorce. Or, you know, it's all it's all ridiculous. You don't have to make it up. Alright, so one thing I was going to mention that I have found to be very useful, and it's something that it's not what I used to do when it comes to being conversational when preparing speeches, and I think this applies to anyone, not just you know, people like us who are more involved in this world is that I almost always wrote my speeches first. And then I made them more conversational by reading them out loud and Okay, well, this line doesn't work, I need to change it around. And I've been finding more and more that the opposite approach is the better one. So I will say them first. Get a feel for the flow, get a feel for the stories then write down you know, the lines are really want to get right. And everything else stay even if I write it in full afterwards, I'm writing in full something I said first. So it's oral communication, recorded and not written communication, you know, communicated orally.
Malachi Talabi 24:35
Yeah, I mean, to win the contest, I wrote my speeches out, this is what I did, because you got a seven minute time limit. You have like eight you find that your speech rate and you think okay, I've got to write and then a part of the contest forms is worse the way you use words and metaphors and similes. So, I write in my speeches, but I'm having to memorise what I've written because I don't write how I speak and the spontaneous part of the brain I believe it's The right brain, the creative part is the right brain. And isn't
Francisco Mahfuz 25:06
to know. I keep I keep. I'm pretty sure that the whole right and left is the bone. Okay, well, yeah. But today and also the learning styles thing. He's like, I'm a kinesthetic learner. He was like, no, no evidence,
Malachi Talabi 25:22
no evidence. Okay? So all I do know is that when I write, I'm more likely to refine what I've written if I attack on a Microsoft Word, but in my mind doesn't have a spellcheck. So when it's coming out of your mouth, you sound natural, how you actually sound. So one technical level was we call it talk, then transcribe, so you talk your speech, and then you transcribe it onto the talk into a dictaphone. This is my process, I literally talk, then transcribe, I took my whole story, then I write down what I've written. And I might add a little bit to enlarge the picture of a scene. Maybe I might change a word here and there, but generally talk then transcribe and that's what I did that made the biggest difference was talking in transcribing. And after I did that, when I started to get worked up, people would say, Malecon I, you're so conversational, you're so cute. You're just real. That's no kidding. You're so real. I get you, I feel you. And I even words, like, instead of saying, she said, in a bit of dialogue, I say my wife was like me, because I actually say my wife was like, that's how I actually speak. And then the whole having to memorise my speech became less difficult, because I'm actually only practising what I've already said, that is actually a part of me, rather than me trying to, you know, be angry at myself, because I'm forgetting the line that I meant to say, because I've written it in a perfect way. So talk them transcribe the technique, basically, you're describing, it's amazing for connection
Francisco Mahfuz 26:47
with some of the more recent technology, it's, that's become easier as well, because you can, you can just record it, and then run it through a subtitle website or something. So you don't even have to actually listen and put it down. It's yeah, it's a lot easier. Yeah. And I think with stories, which were we should get to that was half an hour and skirted around with stories, I would argue that you should, you actually shouldn't write them down. So even if you're practising a speech, and there is a story or stories in there, you know, as long as you can do the story in the time that you're supposed to do it. I wouldn't write them down because they it does take away the spontaneous spontaneity of it. It just it sounds I mean, unless you've rehearsed it so so much that you've gone past the sounding rehearsed thing. But the story is unique, because you already remember them. So you know what, yours. I know what my story about meeting Javier Bardem at a pub in Ireland, so I don't need to rehearse that story. I know what it is. And as long as I can do it a few times to make sure I'm not including stuff that doesn't need to be there, then fine. I mean, that story's about three minutes long, right? You know, as long as I plan everything else to have three minutes to 330, that shouldn't matter. playmate let's jump into into story. Now, when you teaching people to do that, to use more stories in their presentations or speeches, is there any type of structure that you tell them to use? Or do you sort of leave it to their natural instincts to what what should go where?
Malachi Talabi 28:22
Yeah, now initially, I say to people, like, just just tell your story and get it out. Because a lot of people don't, the biggest thing I have is I don't have a story. I don't know what they say to me, they don't have a story. But if I'm talking to them, before we get into maybe a coaching session, they would have told me a story, like what they did today. And I'm hooked. And they've got all the elements. So like, I advise people to just tell a story. And then it's just about putting the right piece in the right places. So a lot of people have the whole story, but a complex at the end, everything's just all over the place. So my job really is to first if you can't find a story, I say like searching for places, my ones, your career, your circumstance, your childhood, and then chance encounters. So if you've met a celebrity, or if something strange happened when you're going somewhere, but I told him to look at the four C's of where to find the story. And once they've got that, then I say literally just tell the story. But I think there's a book called The Power of moments by
Francisco Mahfuz 29:27
Yeah, it's on my list. It's the same guys that wrote me to stick shift. And then I believe,
Malachi Talabi 29:33
yeah, that book. So they talk about how you know, something's happened to us. And then noticeable. Like, I don't know, you've ever been at a dinner party or conversation over the phone where you're literally just telling someone something and it's like, you leave the conversation like that was a good story, or you should have a moment you think, yes, so it's like, helping you identify what the story is and where it is. And once I do that, I just told them to one just tell yourself And then I say, Okay, now let's bring it into a sort of structure. And I know there's the is it the Hollywood's not on a hero's journey, a hero's journey. And there's a Hollywood storyteller structure, which is kind of from the hero's journey.
Francisco Mahfuz 30:12
I think there's, some people call it a Pixar pitch, or by Ken Smith story, spine. They're all based on the hero's journey.
Malachi Talabi 30:23
Mine's not as refined as the hero's journey. But I say that that's the seven P's that Every story needs. And if you get them in, then generally, you're hitting all the right spots. I say that your story needs a place a problem. I say personalities, I say pulling moments and pull it with a problem. I said, absence of conflict is a presence of boredom. So you draw them in a personalities as your characters, principles. And that's your like, what is the actual point or the phrase? What is the takeaway? I say, pull in moments. And for me in Toastmasters, this is probably the biggest thing that I think Toastmasters competitions, kind of lack or stories that you think this is something missing face. I used to say to milk, my wife has a darling, I'm hearing people tell stories, that different from mine, this, there's something missing. It's just like a long story. And then a point, there's something missing. I feel like I'm outside the story. And then I realised what it was a pulling moment. And what I call a pulling moment is like, where you say something like, my wife was going to the shopping centre, and she asked me to buy some chips. And then you stop. And you say, I say put them on his way you beat your story on pause, and your audience on pray. So you come out of the story. And you're saying, I've ever been there. You know, those times when you don't want to do something, but your wife asked you to do something, you know, I'm saying and you might raise your hands, but you'll actually stop telling the story, come out of the story, and then move into the audience and say, Have you ever do you remember a time you know how it feels when you may it's a youthful you focus pulling moment. And when I do that, sometimes the story's over here is on pause, and I'm talking to the audience. And there's banter, that spontaneity, this improv, people make comments. And that's actually the moment where your audience stop hearing a story and start having an experience. And then I come back from my pulling moment, I put my audience on pause my story on Play. And I do that two or three times inside the story. And then there's a connection that's built and then afterwards, they say, MCI, like, my boss was like that. We have this long thing after the speech because they didn't hear a story. They're in an experience. So you've got pulling moments, principles play, and then as a playfulness, I my speech contest, when a speech was very intense, went to one of the world champions GMP, he said, Malikai, your story was to attack.
Francisco Mahfuz 32:48
I heard someone described this as what is it? Did after a certain period in like all the speech competitions, everything was either cancer, or death, or something like that. There's something else I can't remember. But it's everything is like a horrible misery. It is just Oh, no, I don't want another one of those please.
Malachi Talabi 33:12
Okay, everything's happening. Everything happening in my life dies. For me, yes. Yes.
Francisco Mahfuz 33:19
Formula. Let me let me pick you up on some stuff there. So just to recap, the four C's that you say you tell people to go and find their stories, childhood circumstances, chance encounters and career, okay. that I find interesting that you were one that you call them pulling moments? Because no, I don't know how many storytelling books you've read. But in the in the sort of the storytelling world a moment as a very specific thing. I mean, there is there is it's a it's a term and it's the one that everyone that he sort of that you know, reads the literature and whatever will refer to is the moment is that part of the story where more than any other time you are showing and not telling, right? So. So for example, if you're talking about so i Something I've told before, where as I started talking before, where I had this, I was in London, I have gone to a nightclub, but not because I had gone to the read back Tavern in Acton, and it was a weeknight, so I had to work the next day very early in the hotel bar that I was I was working out, and then I left early, and then but I hadn't had a few drinks. And the next thing I knew, I woke up in a dark and empty bus. And I was like, where am I and I was so drunk, so drunk, that the first thing that came to my mind was where exactly in the bus is the place to pee? I'll leave it to the listeners imagination if I actually believe inside the bus or not. But then I had to press the emergency button. I got out of the bus. I was in the garage and zone six. Yeah, so you can you know for anyone who doesn't know London zones. cuz like a different city, I took me, I had to wait an hour to for the buses start running again, it took me another hour and a half to get back home. So I had stopped working, I think at nine, and I got home at quarter past eight. So I slept for 10 minutes had a shower in tears, like I was literally crying in the shower. And I was like, Oh, my life is awful. And as I got out of the Get out of the house, I was waiting in the tubes at the train station for to go to work. And then I saw on the floor, this kebab rack with some with some chips on top. And I looked at the chips. And I thought, well, they're still on top of the paper. Both me describing what happened in the bus, and me describing the the chips. That was what most storytellers would call a moment. So it is just sort of super visual and all of that. In either way, I actually think that most people that just deal with pure storytelling, not storytelling within a speech would ever advocate for audience interaction, what people tend to do to get the same, the same effect that you're going for is, I call this having a specific, so I want the story to be relatable, specific and emotional. And the specific is about two things about the moment. And it's about details. So So you know, I could have said, you know, when you have some, you buy some chips at the kebab. And it's they come in like this, this triangle. And there's some grease spots. And there's that little wooden fork that always gets your fingers that now I don't need to say, Have you ever bought those chips? Because if I picked my details, right, you're going yeah, 100% I've bought those chips before. So I think that's usually the approach that people typically will say is have a detailed there that anyone that understands the world you're describing will go yeah, there that's, we were talking about those masters, you can always say, you know that thing where you're supposed to greet the contest chair? Like we know what that is? So go yes, this guy has watched a competition at almost a competition before. So yeah, no, I think it's interesting that you call one that you would have that in there. I have the speeches all the time. I wouldn't necessarily. I don't I don't I have it in the middle of a story. And and the other thing that that I, I you know, you mentioned principals, which is I think you're kind of describing the point of the story, right? Or the moral of the story. So when you do that, do you what where do you want that point? Do you want it before? Or after?
Malachi Talabi 37:43
Yeah, so there's different approaches, because sometimes it's tell a story and make a point. But sometimes it's make a point then tell a story. So sometimes, you know, I might say the absence of conflict is the presence of boredom. Boom, because I've got this technique. Well call it um, you know, like fishing, you go fishing, you got a fishing rod and need bait? Yes, yeah, there's a term called hook, line and sinker. So I call it hook line, then story. So I would say the absence of conflict is the presence of border. And most people neglect conflict in their stories. And they don't understand how much they can have the audience hanging on every word. But I discovered how this can like be detrimental to your speech, when I was talking to my wife, boom, hook line story. So I've made the point there. And then I'll come into the story tell about it. And so remember, the absence of conflict is the presence of boredom. So I might do tell us make a point, tell the story and then make the point at the end. But sometimes the the principle is literally like you do your hook line and go into your story. That principle could be sometimes a principle isn't like the the phrase way my speech contest, it was like keep on walking, keep it's not like that. Sometimes it's so it's so one line could be the principle that literally like you said, in one of your speeches, was it was it don't give up was the principle you had? A few weeks ago, he
Francisco Mahfuz 39:04
struggled. Everywhere the story is, and I'll tell you about the principles. It was about
Malachi Talabi 39:09
how things go wrong went really wrong. And I think it was, was it a song you took
Francisco Mahfuz 39:16
out It ain't over till it's over? Oh, yeah, it's it was that, you know, if if where you are now is not where you want to be. Remember, this is not the end of a story. It's the end of a chapter.
Malachi Talabi 39:27
What was good about it was that the story was told, and you only said it maybe once or whatever it was, but the principal was there. Sometimes it's just like, you tell your story, because I used to, when I first started is like, I've got to put a principal in there. I got to put it in there five times 10 times. But then I realised that only maybe once or twice or maybe just once with a little and when I say Quinton what I usually do it, my some of my other friends say that let the story let the story tell its own principle and allow the audience to kind of draw from it what they want, but Sometimes, because of the type of like audience I'm speaking to sometimes they feel like they need to know where the story's going if it works either way, but sometimes it's just one one phrase that so my principles are using wrapped up in a phrase. So I have a phrase that is like, between zero and 10 lines. And
Francisco Mahfuz 40:16
something that I think I learned from Sean Callahan from anecdote is he calls the relevance statement. And that's, that's something that works incredibly well for when you're trying to teach people to use storytelling in business. Because the one of the biggest hurdles of using storytelling in business is the way the Harry telling me the story problem. So what he says is, you know, I've tested this and works perfectly is, you just say one line in that could be the connection to the story. So someone is talking about how I said, I told the story about my daughter waking up in the middle of the night and not wanting to go back to sleep. And then I tried to convince her and I reasoned with her and I threat and I did all these things, nothing worked. And then I started crying. And that worked. And, you know, you're talking to people about how they're trying to convince people with reason, but they're not connecting emotionally. Alright, so you can see your message is not really resonating. And then you can say something like, I've found that if you can connect emotionally, sometimes you just you just never get anywhere. Like last week, my daughter woke up. And then you don't have to say it again. By the time I get to the end of my story, it's obvious what of what you know what the point is. And he would talk about it just say something like, you know, sometimes, sometimes we don't really know, our audience, we don't we're not talking the same language as they are in then, you know, I can tell the story about how I took my wife out for nice dinner and asked her to wear something nice as a surprise. And she thought I was gonna propose, and I didn't. So, yeah, but set it up. And then you let the story do the work. Because you've already made the point. I agree, it's dangerous to just tell a story without being kind of obvious about the point is, if you're trying to use it, object, you know, strategically for business or anything like that,
Malachi Talabi 42:05
I mean, even in like, so like when I'm selling, selling, you shouldn't really be selling a word, but I'm trying to sell something, there's a difference. There's a story that makes a point that people you know, that you have a message from, but there's also like a story such to sell a product, we call it like what I've learned is good then now and how, and then now and how storytelling structure is like, because I had to do it as a part of something I was learning on a course. And how we did it was that you would tell them that I said, Oh, I was a Toastmaster. And I won that you cannot have public speaking championship in nine months, I just didn't know how I did it, then. Now I get paid to speak. And I sell products and help people tell great stories. And I've got the confidence to do it. And how how is in a book that I put together called smash it with a story. So that then what happened? Now here's my reality, but the how is in your product. So there's different ways that you can kind of use kind of storytelling and
Francisco Mahfuz 43:10
don't seems like a version of something I was just talking about couple of shows back with Park how we just called the the end but and therefore that I was going I was I was doing all these speeches, and they competed and won some staff. But I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. It says slightly different approach that because you're not trying to say I fixed it in this is how I did it. It's this is the setup. Now we have a problem. And now we're going to come up with some sort of resolution. It's funny
Malachi Talabi 43:41
you call here want to say to that maybe somebody will listen to you kind of wait storytelling like is one, it's a game changer. But two is breathing. When it comes to communicate, we should it should be hard. It should be. And I'm seeing more and more that so many different entrepreneurs and businesses that are coming into a place where they are really recognising storytelling. My wife is actually on a course by this great millionaire, doing his whatever he's doing, but are part of his courses that you have to do something called a whiteboard women webinar. So if you're not tripping out, you probably know where that is, you know, it's a lead magnet to get a bigger audience. So you've got to do some training on the whiteboard. Now one of the modules is that you have to tell a story. And I said violence. You can't escape this. But the story structure is one I hadn't actually seen before. I read a lot of storytelling and he thing is that you have to tell a story. But your first point, the first point you tell your story, but the first point that you make in the story is a transformational promise. So you might say something like, I did this and it helped me make this much of income. Then the second point in the story is to deal that you make is to deal with the objections that your promise suggests. So you got to kind of think about what would the audience be thinking as another Objection. Oh, you're you're you got lucky you were young or you had a rich inheritance. The third point will be you may is to give them permission for you to sell. I don't like wow. Like there is a lot of there's not
Francisco Mahfuz 45:13
really a story though is it? I mean, it's, it's a, it's a, it's a pitch or a speech structure. Because this is this is where I, I, you know, I don't really care what we call it, you know, it's more important that we're using it and how we're using it. But, but this is where I get a bit, you know, this some things are stories, some things are not stories. So if I say to you, the first and only time I went fishing with my dad, I think was the first time he went fishing, because I don't think he had any idea what he was doing. He didn't think he needed a fishing rod. So he got the the line, he got the hook. And he didn't get worms. I don't know, I don't know, if he just thought they were disgusting. Or he just thought he knew better. He got proms, prawns is what he bought to use as bait. So we were hooking this prawns into the, we're getting this bronze, and like throwing the line into the water, and some of them started catching light. But you know, the fish were just eating the bronze and we were left with beats. And then at some point, I think you just realised how ridiculous that was. We just took the bronze home and cooked them. Now that's a story. Right? I could Yeah, top and tail that with a lesson and do a whole thing around it. But that thing I just told is the story. All this other stuff you making, making the story sort of the meat of your presentation sandwich, but but they're not the story, you know? So the relevant statement is not the story. The relevant statement is the how you get into the story how you make a point ahead of time, I would tell people why you should be listened to me is not the story.
Malachi Talabi 46:53
Yeah, I think his concept was trying to use stories to deal with the objections of the audience. So you're using a story now. So it's part number one is you're selling the transformation. Your user stories illustrate transformation. But now your transformation has built an object objection. So people are like, I can't do this, I can't do that. So you're thinking you can't do this, then, hey, check this out. So it's really it's a weird, I mean, the guy's a millionaire. So he's probably done a lot of NLP and stuff like that, too. But like, Yeah, I think that that what you illustrated that because I was listening to your audition story just now. And it's like, keeping the purity of storytelling, it's like, you don't really have to do that much work. If you tell a story authentically, and you
Francisco Mahfuz 47:37
don't do, this is something you were saying before, so you were saying that you have your seven pieces of story. And what I believe is true is that, you know, there's a few things that the brain is looking for, to figure out if it's a story, the very first thing is time and place, the moment you start saying something like, you know, i Yesterday I or hold on, this sounds like a story, then, you know, usually there was a character is like, you know, you're not, it's an opinion you're giving it's happened to me happened to my wife happened to my friend, whatever. And then there's a sequence of events, there is some type of problem there. In there in there will be some learning at the end, there will be an aha moment will be a surprise, because that's what a story is. And my experience with, you know, social media, for example, is, if you watch every seat, pretty much every single video that I put out, it's almost always a story. And there is no intro. I mean, you could maybe argue that whatever is written on the post is the intro. Where is the relevant statement, but I always start them saying many years ago when I was living in London, and I just tell the story, I'm not trying to make it interesting. I'm not putting something you know, I call this the WTF, right? I want the interest to be WTF, with thought provoking or funny. I don't do I'm like, I just assumed that the story is going to grab you the moment I say 10 years ago, blah, blah, blah, your brain goes, Oh, hold on, maybe I'm going to learn something here. And and I think that sometimes, particularly if you've been trained as a speaker before, you've been trained as a storyteller, you forget that your story again, you don't have to hold their attention for a minute, if nothing is happening for a minute, but for the first 1020 seconds. All you need is to make it sound like a story. If I started saying, well, there's many things that I've learned in my life, and some of them or you lost me already.
Malachi Talabi 49:34
There's still like, still like you're right stories have enough power to it. I don't know you. I mean, that's the science studies that is releasing certain things in the brain and, you know, Wired for Story and things like that. And I do believe if your intro doesn't really create a question in the mind of the audience, it could even be don't look at this deep question. But if you don't create a question, then the audience wants to be alone because mine can't deal with unanswered questions. So currency income conflict, if you've got that. So that's why people are listening because they want to know that they're nosy. It's just this thing in your mind, you want the answer to it, like, you know. So I guess like you said, if the story is a story, and there's curiosity and conflict in there, people will carry along all the other techniques there, right. But people will carry and come into your story and be drawn into it. So yeah, I do believe that story story has let me just Hauer
Francisco Mahfuz 50:26
talk about one more thing before we completely run out of time. And I haven't asked something that that I definitely wanted to talk to you about, which is the fact that you do do a lot of or used to do a lot of your speaking at church. Right. And I actually referenced that you know, talked about sex in church, we probably should explain what that is I was an hour into the, the recording. So yeah, I wanted to I wanted to one understand how, how do you find that different if it's different at all than then other speakers or what what works? What doesn't work? Because, you know, I that's I haven't that's completely completely alien experience to me.
Malachi Talabi 50:59
So I'm blessed enough to come from a background where the audience is responsive. So when I'm speaking, like, you could just get some feedback, you know, it's good. Amen. Hallelujah. Check, preach it, you know, like, so I'm blessed that the audience give you live feedback. What's good for me is that in the in the church world, especially like where the baton are coming from, they're not used to storytelling. They used to, like the Bible says La la la la la.
Francisco Mahfuz 51:27
I mean, the Bible is, the parables are stories. People remember the story of the Good Samaritan, that's a story
Malachi Talabi 51:34
you write in my book, especially the story said, like the first quote, there, it says, without a story, he taught them not. And that is a need just even look, there's a first quote on the first page here. It says, chapter one, without a story. He taught them not mark for verse 34, Jesus was a storyteller. And most of his content was story that he wouldn't teach people without telling them a story in the church, where they're like, Oh, we got to read the Bible. But I came back with something different. I started to tell stories about my wife, my this mother. And the thing is, because they were kind of unconsciously formal, they're like, hold on, he's actually a human being who's connecting with me. And now people were like, very refined a law thing. And so, for me, I brought a different mode of communication to my church. So it's like, they will always be excited when I'm speaking because I was real. I was transparent. So as he helped me, that was my battle, do I speak how I actually speak? Or do I do the religious thing, because I was very unrefined and unreligious it worked. But then, so what I learned from that the world of speaking helped me in church. But what I learned from that the role of free and not speaker for too long, but then what I learned from church helped me in the world of speaking because you guys are presentation and people were kind of more reserved, laid back in church and that say something like, turn to your neighbour and say, God is good. You know, the interaction of speaking in church, like, I'm used to people being alive and lively and give a talk, I think I'll say could always talk back to me on guys. So I'm using the techniques I've used that I've come from a church background in the professional world, and then in the professional world, I'm using it to structure and tell stories and use metaphors. So there's almost like this perfect merge and then obviously, hearing Jesus was a storyteller, like he's the Bible says he spoke to multitudes that's literally 1000s of people and being able to hold their attention he said that the device I look at the devices that he's using, and I like it storytelling was important to someone who had a massive following or whatever, like, Hey, I'm gonna jump on that bandwagon.
Francisco Mahfuz 53:43
Some could argue that if it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for you. But I watched one not many videos ever talking in church but there was there's one that you do I think you had something to do with that I think we had let's get it on song playing and that was you talking about sex. But what I really liked was if I remember the story well essentially was about your daughter she was watching TV you were trying to do something else and then you talk about how we know that the noise is concerning but but but when you hear silence that's even worse. And I think she was trying to get some CDs there were too high for her and then your whole thing was, was it a new grow by a
Malachi Talabi 54:26
lot of people when they're going through something they're moaning you know, I think you don't, you don't get to the next level. If you grow gr o an, like you're growing. You get if you're grown gr o w n grown to the next level. Yeah.
Francisco Mahfuz 54:42
I think I've heard someone say something like, you know, don't go through it grow through it. I think you're lying was your role when you you reach it or grow when you get it, which is quite funny because you're telling like a five year olds like grow and you will reach it right, right. It's gonna take three years
Malachi Talabi 55:00
You know, so yeah, and that's another point you make, like, what I realise is Listen, my my law number one of storytelling is that people respond to what they relate to. So like if they can relate so church audience and it wasn't as it wasn't strategic, I'm speaking to a church audience, I need to have a family story in there. It's not that strategic. Although I might tell someone that to do something like that, but I didn't think of it like that. But I realised that people respond to what they relate to. And I find the hardest stories that I tell is when I say your backstory will kill your story. So like sometimes if people can't respond to what they relate to, and then you're giving us backstory about, let's say, for example, you've asked this being Toastmasters in church, and it takes me like a whole 90 seconds or two minutes, explain what Toastmasters is, my backstory is now cured my story, that you just just just just see that backstory, leave it or just get content that you know, the audience will relate to. So that's how I sort of navigated being in the church world. And then with the church was one of the delivery dynamics is that I can shout, they used to that, like, I can shout, I can be loud I can, whatever it is, but as soon as like you, sometimes if you watch some of that in my sermon, or I don't speak into it as much anymore, but my message there, and I'm assuming be the same story. But I tone it all down because African American and black audience and Afro Caribbean audience that like if you're not shouting that in a Pentecostal churches, like they don't think they might think not using the person or the cultural group, but my mom, so one of my mentors, Jim Keane, or at the time I talked about, he said that you can motivate without shouting, I've had to look into it. And I've got like this thing called the Promised Land principle in my book, public speaking hacks. And I realised that if you showed them like the promise, if you do this, this will happen. And if but if you don't do this, you might find that you'll be in this place. That's enough motivation. Like if you find a pain point, that's that pain is an acronym you find there, you know, that what brings them pleasure, what their aspirations are, what their interests are, and what the need is, and you speak around that, and you see if you do this, but if you don't do this, like he's shown in the promised land in the wilderness, that's enough motivation wherever you shot or not. That's already they know that there's consequence and reward a blessing and a curse, sowing and reaping karma. Like you can set up your destiny and teach them personal responsibility, then you can kind of strip out all I don't even need to shout, you have to say, Hey, guys, oh, you know, you want it back. No, like, show them the wilderness that they're in, and the promised land that they could get. And then my mental Craig said, always say, like, people hate the word most people. So when you say like, most people won't take action on this. Or most speakers neglect this. And people don't want to be most people. People want to be world class. So they want to be seated, show them this side and that side. So I learned how to kind of motivate without showing
Francisco Mahfuz 57:59
up before the picture painting there. I've described it as that most stories are the most powerful stories are someone moving from pain to power. But by the end of it, you need to be able to do something you weren't able to do before.
Malachi Talabi 58:17
Francisco Mahfuz 58:19
or over, man. So if, if people want to find you and the stuff you're doing, where should they go to.
Malachi Talabi 58:26
So the best place to go is to go to LinkedIn. Or you could go to my blog, which is public speaking hacks, www dot public speaking hacks.com.
Francisco Mahfuz 58:36
It's been a great pleasure, man. And to everyone else. Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves, and until next time.
I hope you enjoy the show. And if you did, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave us a review or a rating on the Apple podcasts app. It's very easy. You open the app and find this show and scroll down a little and when you see the stars tab. I'd really appreciate it and it does help other people find this. And if you'd like to get in touch or find out more about what I do, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website story powers.com