Larry Kendall was not a natural-born speaker. As a five-year-old growing up in a small Kansas town, Larry slipped into a coma brought on by the inflammation of the brain called encephalitis – also known as the sleeping sickness. When he awoke, he had slurred speech and paralysis in one leg. These challenges might stop most people from ever considering a career in public speaking, but Larry Kendall faced them head-on.
Since his first compensated speaking engagement in 1985, Kendall has spoken over 3,000 times and he is now speaking 75 to 100 times a year. His style, which he calls the Socratic Method, emphasizes asking questions and engaging directly with his audience. With 33 years of experience in real estate – including being one of the founding partners of The Group, Inc. – Kendall now devotes much of his time to Ninja Selling, his sales training program.
Below is an excerpt from our exclusive interview with Larry. The rest of his interview is featured in volume 1 of Finding Speaking Success: Mentoring Tips from the Masters, along with 25 other insightful interviews with highly successful professional speakers.
Q. What are the biggest mistakes you see new speakers make?
A. I prefer the Socratic style, so I think one of the biggest mistakes is talking too much, and telling instead of asking and sharing. The research shows that if you stay in the telling mode, or command mode, then you have about two minutes before people start to check out. You need to mix it up, ask a question, tell a story – just do something to keep them engaged. A lot of new speakers have great content, but they get caught up wanting to share their content when they could be a lot more effective if they asked more questions.
Socrates believed the student had the answers, and you just needed to ask the right questions to draw those out. Many times you will have a much richer workshop, if you can draw those out, but a lot of times you have to be willing to accept what is drawn out. If you call on somebody or you ask a question and somebody pipes up with an answer, you never know quite what you are going to get. You need to be skilled enough to handle that.
In sales, we always assume that to be a successful salesman, you had to be a strong closer. But modern research shows it’s not about the closing, but the opening. It’s all about the first two minutes. That’s when a person decides if they like you and trust you. The same thing is true with your audience. If you can get through the first two minutes, and make those powerful and connected, then everything else will go great.
- Larry’s website: http://www.ninjaselling.com/
Coming soon… Video excerpt of our interview with Larry!
(Sign up to be notified here)