Creating a Memorable “Bit” for Your Keynote Speech with Nicole Edwards: Podcast Ep. 269

269: Creating a Memorable "Bit" for Your Keynote Speech with Nicole Edwards: Podcast Ep. 269 | Speaking Your Brand

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As you’re working on your keynote speech (or aspiring to one), there are key elements to include that make it different from a regular business presentation or training.

Along with stories and audience engagement (always!), you can also create what’s known as a “bit.” This is a section of your keynote, usually just a few minutes long, that stands out and becomes memorable for the audience.

My guest Nicole Edwards recently graduated from our Thought Leader Academy and we worked together to create her keynote.

I really enjoyed working with Nicole because she was always open to learning and improving.

In this episode, Nicole and I talk about:

  • Her background and what has brought her to thought leadership
  • The process we went through to create her new keynote signature talk
  • The key elements of her keynote, including stories and her framework
  • Why we decided she needed a “bit” for her keynote and what that means
  • Her experience in our Thought Leader Academy

 

 

About My Guest:  With a professional background in mental health and talent development that spans over 20 years, Nicole Edwards has been a catalyst of growth for people and organizations—working with thousands of individuals in educational, corporate, and nonprofit settings.  Nicole dedicates her life’s work to stir others to live and lead from a deeply authentic space. With her masterful approach to learning design and speaking, Nicole has been afforded opportunities to design certificate and leadership courses for emerging leaders, facilitate corporate retreats, speak at international conferences, and land a spot on the big red dot with her TEDx talk called In Your Eyes.

In 2019, Nicole created Edwards Authentic, a vision brought to life by providing transformative experiences for professional women. Through insightful content, courses, and retreats, Nicole aspires to create a sanctuary for women to flourish in their personal and professional endeavors. 

Nicole is a coauthor of the International Women of Color Who Boss Up— an Amazon best-selling book seen on CBS and NBC that features the stories of female entrepreneurs of color who have trailblazed their unique paths, overcoming adversity in the relentless pursuit of purpose. 

About Us: The Speaking Your Brand podcast is hosted by Carol Cox. At Speaking Your Brand, we help women entrepreneurs and professionals clarify their brand message and story, create their signature talks, and develop their thought leadership platforms. Our mission is to get more women in positions of influence and power because it’s through women’s stories, voices, and visibility that we challenge the status quo and change existing systems. Check out our coaching programs at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com

 

Links:

Show notes at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/269

Nicole’s website: https://www.edwardsauthentic.com/ 

Download our FREE workbook on how to position yourself as a thought leader: https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/guide/

Apply for our Thought Leader Academy: https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/academy/ 

Schedule a consult call with us to talk about creating your signature talk and thought leadership platform: https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/contact

Connect on social:

 

Related Podcast Episodes:

269-SYB-Nicole-Edwards.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

269-SYB-Nicole-Edwards.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Carol Cox:
We’re talking about how to create a memorable bit for your keynote speech with my guest, Nicole Edwards, on this episode of The Speaking Your Brand podcast. More and more women are making an impact by starting businesses running for office and speaking up for what matters. With my background as a TV political analyst, entrepreneur and speaker, I interview and coach purpose driven women to shape their brands, grow their companies, and become recognized as influencers in their field. This is Speaking Your Brand, your place to learn how to persuasively communicate your message to your audience. Welcome to the Speaking Your Brand podcast.

Nicole Edwards:
Nicole So happy to be here with you, Carol. Thanks for having me.

Carol Cox:
Well, my pleasure. We’ve gotten to know each other over the past four or five months, as you’ve been in a Thought Leader Academy, you graduated in mid-February. Congratulations.

Nicole Edwards:
Yes, thank you.

Carol Cox:
Thank you. I enjoyed working with you one on one. And we did a VIP day to create your signature talk, which we’re going to dig into today. Specifically, it’s a keynote talk and some of the different elements that we included that makes it a keynote, including what’s known as a bit. And so we’re going to get into that. Before we dive into your signature talk, Nicole, tell us about who you are and your background, and then we’ll get into the talk itself.

Nicole Edwards:
Okay. I’m Nicole Edwards, and I am a person that loves learning. From the first time I stepped into a kindergarten class, I fell in love with learning, so much so that the last ten or 12 years or so I have extensively done a lot of learning and development through professional development workshops and speaking engagements, and it’s everything that I do. I’m also studying towards a doctorate degree and it’s in adult learning. So it’s all of the things necessary to help adults really just continuing to learn. It’s a lifelong process. And so I am a person that is just passionately involved in everything that has to do with learning, especially as we try and really get to who we are as people and that personal development area.

Carol Cox:
Nicole Well, first and very impressive that you’re going for your PhD and doing this right now at the same time that you’re working and working on your speaking and going through the Thought Leader Academy. So let us start there actually. What, what drew you into wanting to join the Thought Leader Academy? What did you want to accomplish in it?

Nicole Edwards:
I couldn’t even name the number of workshops that I facilitated and also speaking at conferences all over the country and various things related to that. And I really wanted to take my level to the next level. I wanted to to move from being just an expert to somebody who was seen as a thought leader. And for this this meant to not only incorporate the things that I know and all of my experiences, but to also weave in my personal stories and how those have shaped me to become the person that I am. And I think that stories are so transformative in a way that just merely sharing information can’t or does not.

Carol Cox:
Absolutely. Nicole And that really is at the heart of a keynote speech. And even a TED talks or TEDx style talks is a story, one key story, but then other stories that could support it. Let’s go into that. Nicole, you have a fascinating background, personal background, as far as how you grew up and some of the the discoveries that you had as you got older about who you are, your family, and that that has informed so much of not only the personal work that you do, but really the professional work that you now do. So can you share a little bit about that?

Nicole Edwards:
So as a mixed race person, I have always been in this space of continual growing and evolving, right? And I always wanted to move to a point of integration. And so I’ve had experiences in my life where I felt misunderstood and alienated. I’ve had stages where I felt people were forcing me to choose this or that. I also felt that there were certain stages in my life where I would deny aspects of myself just to fit in or to make other people happy. And what I found is that my true freedom, right, was when I took aspects of those experiences and of both components of my identity and formed what was the most authentic expression of myself. Right. And I think that’s what authenticity really means. It’s what is most meaningful for you and true to you in the highest level.

Carol Cox:
I remember Nicole, our first one on one coaching call when you were talking about these different aspects of yourself and integrating them, and you mentioned that this these were your words, that you’re a nerd and you like sparkly glam at the same time.

Nicole Edwards:
Absolutely. I am somebody that can be caught with a nose, you know, in a book. I, I my favorite type of genre for film is documentaries. You know, I am just like I mentioned, like the learning aspect of myself is I’m a nerd. I’m going for my doctor. I mean, you must love something to do with school if if that’s what you’re doing. But I also love the sparkly, beautiful parts, you know, I love makeup and hair and all those things that don’t. Necessarily go together. And it’s it’s really looking at those things that you’re really interested in and that are really speaking to you as a person and having those things integrated into how you show up, whether that’s in the work that you do and even in like your everyday relationships and such.

Carol Cox:
And then Nicole, I know that when we started working together also and then did your VIP day for your signature talk, we had an acronym that we decided to use, and I don’t remember, you may have come to the academy with the acronym. It’s called True True E, and so can you tell us tell us what the acronym stands for and then we’ll talk about where it fits into your keynote.

Nicole Edwards:
Okay. The acronym is true. And just as I mentioned in my own experiences and the integration of the aspects of my personality, this is what this is embodied, right? In this acronym, the t, r e. So the the T stands for taking notice. A lot of times when we’re not in alignment or we’re not really showing up in our full, authentic selves, we feel disconnected. We feel discontented. There’s something off, there’s something that we need to pay attention to. And so the first step is to take notice that something’s not quite right. And, you know, as they say, the first level of change. Right, is the awareness that something needs to. And so once you can do that, the next one is ah, which stands for reflect. And reflecting really has to do with looking back on how far you’ve come, the experiences that you’ve been through, the values that you hold, that have been shaped and molded by those experiences. And what are the things that perhaps may have brought you joy in the past or something that maybe you wish that you could have more present as you show up that isn’t there? So really reflecting is a really critical piece of this.

Nicole Edwards:
The U is for seeking understanding. So this is really where the heart of the work happens. This is where the exploration and you might not always get it right. You know, this isn’t not a one time. You do this one time and you’re finished, right? We’re humans and we’re continually evolving. And because of this, we’re probably going to do this work forever. And so it’s not a linear process. It’s a cyclical process that happens over and over again. So in the seek understanding stage is where you dig into all of those things that have been pivotal experiences that are contributing, right, or that could contribute to where you want to go. So this is the identification of those those gaps. And then the last one is E where you embody the change. This is the true integration stage where you’ve not only taken notice, you have reflected, you have sought understanding to continue to help you grow. And now you are embodying that change. And embodying that change takes practice. You know, it’s going to be clumsy sometimes, and that’s okay.

Carol Cox:
And Nicole, I remember when we were working on your keynote that we went through the acronym, so we had these, these four stages and like you mentioned, is cyclical, not linear. And then and here’s what I think makes a really powerful keynote. It’s one thing to lay out the acronym, to lay out the stages, but then going beyond that and then sharing with the audience that here’s where people often get stuck or hears things that they skip over or here’s where they stop and don’t continue. So can you share a little bit where that happens with the truth?

Nicole Edwards:
The first one is is taking notice. And this is kind of like sleepwalking, so to speak, right? It’s kind of an exaggerated way to show it, but it’s kind of just like moving on sleepwalking zombie ish through life, right? You’re sometimes comfortably comfortable. I think the saying goes where you’re just going with the motions and you’re just existing, right? Nobody likes to feel like that. You know, everyone wants a sense of adventure, a sense of purpose, a sense of, you know, this vibrant essence to their being. And so the first one, if you’re stuck in there, it looks kind of like a zombie, right? The next one for reflection is, have you ever noticed things that maybe people tell you that you’ve heard repeatedly over your lifespan? Right. And sometimes maybe it hurts a little bit. Sometimes maybe you don’t want to even try it on because it doesn’t sound like anything remotely like you. This is kind of like looking in the mirror and you don’t even recognize yourself, right? What happens here is that things show up. They mirror themselves everywhere around you, right? You can start to see the things that you might need to pay attention to. And until you do pay attention to those, they’ll come up bigger and bigger and bigger. Right? Kind of like that, that big mirror or multiple mirrors in your face.

Carol Cox:
And then I remember that you mentioned that a lot of times people stop with the you or they get stuck in the understanding and they never go into the embodiment stage. And so what happens when people stop? Air and don’t do the embodiment.

Nicole Edwards:
So it’s kind of like planting a seed that never does anything right. It just it never turns into the next form, so to speak. Like it never it never turns into the flower. It’s just merely stuck in the mud. And, you know, all of the good stuff happens in the mud. I feel like that’s where all those nutrients and all those beautiful things that are potential, are potentials, are there. But unless we do this work in this understanding, we are like a seed that never grows. And I’m sure everyone knows what that feels like when you feel stagnant or stuck or lost your sense of purpose. That’s what that that means to me.

Carol Cox:
And I think about the and I have your board here that I’m looking at as we’re chatting that we did together. And I know that you’re starting off with a personal story. Well, professional personal story of when you were feeling stuck in a role that you had. And even though you were a rock star in the role and you were you were great at it, the company loved you in that role. You got to the point where you realize that you you were not embodying the potential that you saw for yourself. And I love that you share that that personal story in the beginning and then kind of take the audience in through to what it looks, what it can look like for them in these four stages of the truth.

Nicole Edwards:
I just think it’s so important. I think many people can relate where they feel like something’s tugging at them, that there’s more, that there’s other aspects of themselves that they’d either like to explore or maybe they had explored. But they they kind of put it aside because of life responsibilities, etc. and the feeling that, that, that feeling that undeniably you have to move to do something, right? So you have to decide to be true. You can’t just it just doesn’t happen. It has to be a decision and it has to be a continual decision. And here’s the thing is not you’re not the only one that benefits from that. Everyone around you now gets that same permission to do the same thing, and they’re looking at you for how to do that.

Carol Cox:
Nicole So when we worked on your keynote, so the first kind of thing that we do is we lay out all of the content. So the stories, the key points you have your acronym, the supporting points, audience engagement, etc. and then what we do after that is we go and what we add, what I call layers to your talk. So layers are a thing like an enhanced storytelling, multimedia elements, cultural references, third party credibility, and also props and costumes. And then and then finally thinking about body movement, vocal variation, etc., which is really important for keynotes because keynotes have a performing aspect to them as opposed to a workshops, trainings where you still need to do a good job with your delivery, but it’s not quite the same thing as a keynote. So speaking of performing, I just this just popped to my mind. Can you please share the story of the audition? Because I love the story and it’s actually in your talk.

Nicole Edwards:
So this is one of those stories where you just have to to to go with it because, you know, embarrassment happens to us and it’s all good. So a couple of years ago, I really wanted to do I wanted to be part of a stage production. I’ve always wanted to do performance as a young girl. I wanted to be an actor, but I never quite followed that path, but I never also let it go. So it was something that was new. And I and I found out that locally in the Heights was going to be in town and that they were taking auditions. So this is like in the Heights, like Lin-Manuel Miranda in the Heights. Right.

Carol Cox:
So sure.

Nicole Edwards:
No pressure. Doesn’t matter that I’ve never sung. Doesn’t know. It doesn’t matter. They didn’t know how to sing or dance, right? Rather. And so I just decided, you know what, I need something new in my life and I’m going to go try this. So I got a vocal coach. I practiced the lines of the character that I was going to audition for. I took a couple of salsa dancing lessons, right? A couple of salsa dancing lessons. Not like the full on choreography. Just like the one, like the simple thing, right? And I thought that that was enough to study, and I prepared as best as I could. And I went to the audition, my vocal coach came with me and they did the first round of auditions, which is the singing part. And I thought it was so smart because the character had red hair, right? So I dyed my hair red. But when I got there, 13 other girls also had their hair dyed red. So original idea, right? So I got on stage and I did what I practiced with my vocal coach and I will say I pass the vocal part of the audition, which was pretty incredible because I don’t I can hold a tune, but I’m not a singer by any means. So then the second round of auditions happened, and this was the part. I thought that we were just going to do the one two. I was just going to do the simple salsa dance move. And we got we were in groups of four, I think, and we got with the choreographer of the show. And he was going to teach us, I think, for eight counts or something like that.

Nicole Edwards:
And so he started and the first account went so fast, I didn’t even know. I didn’t even have time to like, stand in my, my, my space. I was so lost. And this is in the era where, you know, social media is super popular. I don’t think Tik was out then yet, but everybody’s a dancer. Everybody’s doing choreography except for me. So he did. He moved on to the second account and I tried to keep up and I just I could not. So the three people around me, they nailed it. I mean, nailed every move. And they were doing them. I mean, the moves. Exactly. And then I felt like I was in the middle of like a Seinfeld episode and I just started just doing my own thing, like, funny, like, just, you know, because I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t even keep up with the second eight count of, of seemingly simplistic dance routine of, of this stage production. So I didn’t get a callback right. I didn’t get my number called for the second and I kind of walked home kind of disheartened. But, you know, it’s funny now to look back at it and it’s funny that I did actually try and do it and I learned so much from from it. And I have integrated aspects of every every stage of that process into my life. But it’s just something so funny. And so I hope people can relate to something that went terribly wrong, that they tried, they tried and they seemingly failed.

Carol Cox:
Well, Nicole, thank you for sharing that. We’ve. Trust me, I know that I have my own embarrassing attempts on things, and I’m sure the listeners do as well. And really, you sharing that story, whether it’s here on the podcast or in your talk, when we share stories like that, kind of those vulnerable stories, it creates a connection with the audience. I remember in the Thought Leader Academy group that you were in that first of all, so many of the women in that group liked to perform or did some type of performance when they were younger, whether it was acting or singing or dancing or playing a musical instrument like recitals. So that’s definitely seems to be something that a lot of speakers have in common, which is this performance aspect. And the second thing I remember there was this one call we did where I had everyone share an embarrassing story. Yeah. And didn’t you feel like you knew the women so much better after you heard their stories?

Nicole Edwards:
Absolutely. The stories are such a powerful connector. Absolutely.

Carol Cox:
All right. So you have that story in your keynote. Again, like, it’s fun because it adds a little bit of levity. It shows that vulnerability, that relatability. And then also so for those of you listening, you can’t see this. If you go to the show notes page for this episode, the video is embedded there. So you can actually see the video. But as Nicole was describing the dance number, she was actually moving her body back and forth. And this is the thing as human beings, this is what we do. We will, even if it’s subconscious, we will act out things that we’re doing that have body movement in them, whether it’s walking, dancing, things like that. So when Nicole, when she shares a story on stage, this is exactly what she should be doing, is acting out those dance numbers as she’s telling the story, because then the audience is going to really get into it. Because, Nicole, for you as the speaker, the more you’re into it, the more you’re into the performing aspect. The audience is going to eat that up.

Nicole Edwards:
I can’t wait to share it.

Carol Cox:
You’re like, Great. You get to sing, too. You can. You can sing if you want. You can just recreate the whole audition. All right. So now that leads us into creating what’s called a bit for your talk and what a bit is. And this is not my this is not my invention. This is a round in the speaker world, is that it’s usually something that’s a few minutes long, maybe 2 minutes of 5 minutes long in your keynote talk. That is something that is very well rehearsed. So because you want it to come off really well, but it’s something that you become known for. So then when event organizers or audience members see you and then they say, Oh, I remember that Nicole Edwards, she had that part of her talk where she did X or whatever it happens to be. And then that’s what then event organizers are saying, Oh, like I want that for our next event. Like I want someone like that who does something. So we decided we come up, came up with a bit related to the acronym. True. Since it had those four elements to it. So Nicole, can you describe a little bit about what the bit is and then we’ll talk about how when you’re going to practice it?

Nicole Edwards:
Sure. So just to back up just a little bit for this whole notion of a bit, it it really accents and helps me to extend all of the experience that I’ve had previously. So my focus has always been experiential learning and transformative learning. And what that means is that it’s just not kind of a one directional talk. It’s getting people involved, having a little fun with it, trying on a new idea. Right. And in that your perception. Shifts, right? So transformative learning really happens when someone can have some a change in perception. And so for my talk, I think that was so important for me because I’m so passionate and because I, I love to have involvement from people incorporating this is really going to make the talk come to life, so to speak. And so a component of this is using the stage as kind of key points right along a timeline that you want the audience to get. So you want them to associate certain parts of the stage, right. And your movement in that to what you’re trying to convey. And it also enhances episodic memory where people do remember. Yes, I remember that time when, you know, Nicole had this speaking thing and she’s doing that thing and it had to do with integrating parts of your authentic self. And so that’s so important to me. And so by using the acronym and then also combining that and creating a bit, what I intend to do is to use some of the movements that you’ve seen me doing here, right? As I mentioned, the zombie right. The mirrors everywhere. Right. The flower that isn’t growing. Right. And putting kind of a visual with the actual acronym. And like I said, audience participation is so important to me that I’ll have the audience doing things along with me as well, that it’s going to be unforgettable.

Carol Cox:
Oh, Nicole, I can’t wait. And I am excited because I’ll actually be able to see this in person because you’re coming to our client retreat speaking intensive. That’s happening in early April in Orlando so that you get to practice this and get it filmed professionally so that you have it for your speaker real. So I cannot wait before then though you do have another speaking engagement coming up in the end of March or towards the end of March? Yes. Where you’re going to be able to take elements of your talk and presented there. So can you tell us a little bit about that?

Nicole Edwards:
I’m going to Las Vegas or I’m plan I’m scheduled to go to Las Vegas and it’s at a national convention and it’s one that I’ve spoken at before, but not in this capacity. So I will be able to be on stage and present all the things that I’m saying here in a it’s not as long as a keynote, but it’s definitely in that same kind of capacity. I think it’s around 2000 people that will be there. And I am I will be the speaker that is in the opening session, the last speaker of that day. So it’s really important for me for it to be fun, for to be inspiring, you know, uplifting, energizing so that people are, you know, excited for whatever’s to come for the rest of the days that will be there. So I’m so excited to do this and I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to work with you to help me to synthesize all of those ideas and things that I had buried within me, and to put them together in a way to come away with this amazing talk.

Carol Cox:
Oh, well, I’m so glad that you’re able to have a place to put it out there, you know, to because it’s one thing to to work on it and to have it, whether it’s on the storyboard or on the computer or on slides. But to actually be you can video practice it and things like that, but to actually be able to present it in front of live people, that is going to be so exciting. Yes, absolutely. Nicole, can you share with the listeners what your experience was like in the Thought Leader Academy?

Nicole Edwards:
The first thing that comes to my mind is a great space to be around like minded people working towards similar goals. And so my experience, I’m having trouble putting words to it because it was just so transformative. It was transformational for me. A lot of times we suffer in silence or we sit on ideas that we don’t that don’t ever see the light. Like you’re saying. Like it’s one thing to put it on a board. It’s one thing to write about it, it’s one thing to actually do it. And from all of the the learning modules that you presented to us and your vast experience, you know, both you and Diane’s experience and being around women vulnerable with each other and telling each other, you know, these are the areas that I’m struggling with. Here’s where I feel like imposter syndrome is showing up hugely for me. Here is where I think I want to go. And what do you think about that? So having that space to bounce ideas with each other in a safe space is just it’s just like unlike any other. It’s the thing that you need to do if you’re in a space and you’re stuck. Right. And you want to become known more of a thought leader than merely an expert. It’s taking that next step to really integrating your personal stories, because we all have such great, unique personal experiences that only you can tell. And this has helped me tremendously to get all of those pieces together and fire them away. So I just I think this is the launching pad for a lot of great things to come. And I’m I’m just so, so grateful.

Carol Cox:
Well, likewise. Nicole, I really enjoyed having you in the. Your academy with the other women who were there. You all were so supportive and encouraging to each other. Where can listeners learn more about you? Where’s the best place for them to find you?

Nicole Edwards:
So my website is Edwards authentic, just like it sound sounds, Edwards authentic. And then my IG is the same. So it’s at Edwards authentic. I will be releasing my new speaker rebranded websites in a couple of months. But, you know, you can you can follow me through these channels and then it will lead you to where you need to go. And then on LinkedIn, if you just look up Nicole Edwards, CPD, CPD stands for Certified Professional and Talent Development, and those people who are in that particular arena are very, very much know what that is. It’s a rigorous credential and it’s kind of the pinnacle achievement in talent development. So shout out to all those folks that have that credential as well.

Carol Cox:
Well, that’s awesome, Nicole. And you’re going to add PhD after your name coming up as well. I am so impressed. Nicole, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and for being part of the Thought Leader Academy. I so appreciate you and I can’t wait to see you in a few weeks.

Nicole Edwards:
Likewise. Thank you, Carol.

Carol Cox:
If you, too, would like to join our Thought Leader Academy so you can work on your thought, leadership message and platform and your signature talk. You can get all the details and submit your application by going to Speaking Your Brand. Img Academy again. That’s Speaking Your Brand academy. Until next time. Thanks for listening.

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