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Scott McKain public speaker

Distinction in Speaking: From Being Different to Being Unique with Scott McKain

If you’re having difficulty differentiating yourself from other speakers and meeting planners can’t distinguish you, then you definitely want to listen to this episode featuring Scott McKain. He discusses the importance of standing out and becoming distinctive in your field and shares valuable insights on accomplishing this.




  • The importance of distinction in speaking
  • Finding unique ways to communicate effectively
  • Making speeches personal and valuable to the audience
  • The shift from lectures to personal talks and conversations with the audience
  • The importance of repeat and referral business for successful speaking engagements
  • The value of connecting with the audience
  • The importance of personal stories in speaking
  • The benefits of practicing and coaching
  • The power of storytelling
  • The advantage of having a signature story
  • Having a differentiating factor that sets you apart
  • Being remembered beyond a good speech







Peter [00:00:29]:

If you’re having difficulty differentiating yourself from other speakers and meeting planners can’t distinguish you, then you definitely want to listen to this episode featuring Scott McCain. He discusses the importance of standing out and becoming distinctive in your field and shares valuable insights on accomplishing this. Scott has achieved the Certified Public Speaker designation from the National Speakers Association and has been inducted into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame. He is the best-selling author of Iconic, the soon-to-be-released The Ultimate Customer Experience, and other popular business books. Here’s my conversation with Scott McCain. Hey, Scott, welcome to the show.


Scott McKain [00:01:17]:

Thank you, Peter. Thank you for having me as your guest, and it’s great to be with you and speak to so many speakers.


Peter [00:01:24]:

Here today, Scott speaking to so many speakers. Many speakers, just as it is with other businesses, understand that they need to stand out to do so. They metaphorically, if you will, paint stripes on themselves and say to the world, see how I’m different? Yet they’re often just blending into the pack of other zebras. What are the risks they’re taking when they blend in and don’t stand out?


Scott [00:01:49]:

Peter, one of the things that I focus on is what does it take to create distinction? Or how do you become distinctive in your field? And the same principles apply, certainly, to speaking because it’s really where I did the base research, trying to make my career stand out from other speakers. One of the things I learned is there’s a heck of a lot of difference between differentiation and distinction. Differentiation means that I do something different in the marketplace. It might be that I paint red stripes. It might be that I do something wild on stage, but that doesn’t mean that that appeals to our audience. So distinction is what we do that helps make us unique but also has traction with the people that we’re trying to serve. It helps solve their problems or serve their needs. One of the things that I see with some speakers, and I’m sure you do as well, is that, as you mentioned, they try to be different. They try to do something wild or crazy or out there, and the audience just kind of collectively rolls their eyes. It just doesn’t answer what the audience is looking for. So I think speakers become more distinctive by focusing on and telling unique stories, maybe finding a unique way that fits their own personal style to communicate more effectively. I was in an audience not long ago, and we served together in residence faculty at High Point University, but I’d never heard John Maxwell speak. And they had, like, a cocktail table and a stool and an iPad on it. And he comes, and he sits down at the cocktail table, and he’s running his slides from his iPad. And if you would have said that to me before the speech, I would have said, My goodness, no, you’ve got to be up, and you got to be moved, because that’s my style, right, is to be up and to be moving. Right? But this felt like a grandmother, a grandfather, having just a nice conversation in the kitchen. And for him, it worked incredibly well. And he’s got a very commanding voice and a very commanding personality, but it was unique, and it was distinctive, but yet it made us feel so engaged with him. Because it’s funny, there was a period years ago I think we went from people that were on the stage giving us a lecture, then it became a speech. And now I think part of what we want as an audience is a talk or a conversation. We still call it a speech, and we’re still speakers, but we want to know that the speaker is in the moment and is focused on us as an audience, not just up there on the stage doing their canned 45 minutes. Right. And I hope you agree with that. I think that’s one of the things. The real distinction to your speech comes out of how you make it personal. So you’re speaking from what’s important to you, but you also make it personal for the audience as well, so that they find value in what you say.


Peter [00:05:06]:

Years ago, it was oration.


Scott [00:05:08]:

Oration. Yeah, it’s a better word. Yeah.


Peter [00:05:10]:

Then presentations, then talks, and now it’s a conversation. Even if the audience isn’t speaking to you out loud, they’re certainly speaking to you. And when you make that a two-way conversation, even if you’re the only one verbalizing words, it’s connecting you’re, so right.


Scott [00:05:29]:

You have to answer the questions that the audience is asking themselves. Years ago, I got a call out of the blue, and it was the speaker’s bureau, and they said, we have a new speaker, but he needs coaching. Would you help? And I said, Well, I really don’t do a lot of speech coaching. They said, well, he needs help, not only being a better speaker but he’s never given a professional speech before. So you could coach in what it’s like, the meeting planner and the sound check and these kinds of things that you and I take for granted, so well, that’d be kind of interesting. What’s his name? And they said, Rich Phillips. I said, wow, that’s the same name as that captain that got taken for the Pirates. And they said, oh, that’s the guy. So I speech coached Rich Phillips, and he had gone out and hired a speech writer. And the problem was it was a very well-written article, but for example, the speech began with Captain Phillips on the boat getting taken by the pirates. And I’m like, Wait, were you in the Navy? No, I was never in the Navy. Well, wait, how do you get to be the captain of a boat if you’ve never been in the Navy? And he had this great story. He was a cab driver in Boston.


Peter [00:06:51]:

Oh, wow.


Scott [00:06:51]:

And his biggest tip ever came from this guy that was wearing a beautiful they call him Pea Jackets. And he asked that guy, Are you in the Navy? He said, no, I’m a merchant marines. What’s that? Well, there’s a training academy here in Boston. That’s where you’re taking me. So Rich goes to that and applies. And it was just because he got a big tip as a cab driver. That’s a great story. Right? I mean, connecting with his customer, with his passenger led to the other thing about that we came up with is what was the real message other than I got taken by pirates and I got rescued by the Navy Seals? Everything in his training was, don’t give up the ship. The captain never leaves the ship. But he said, in that situation, if I didn’t go with the pirates, they were going to kill my crew. What happens at that moment that all of your previous training no longer applies to your current situation? That’s something that companies want to know about. That’s something audiences want.


Peter [00:07:55]:

You don’t have to be on a ship.


Scott [00:07:56]:

Exactly right. Exactly right. And that became the challenge. How do you take the experience that you have had and let’s face it, few of us have ever been taken by pirates or have climbed Mount Everest backward in the dark or whatever. None of us had these shocking compelling life stories. But how do we take the story that we do have and make it a universal truth that every audience can gain and grow from? You use the word captivating, public speaker. And I think that’s what captivates is. Not only do I find your story interesting, but I also see how I can apply it to my life and my career so that I can improve and get better.


Peter [00:08:37]:

An astronaut, and I can’t remember which one said once about speaking, “Once I tell my story, I have nothing left.” And I got what he was saying, that I have one major story. But I thought, isn’t that unfortunate that he’s just telling a story but not necessarily connecting with the audience?


Scott [00:08:54]:

Exactly right. I was on a program years ago, and we became acquainted. I don’t want to stretch it to the point that we were friends, but we became acquainted and stayed in touch for a while with Jim Lovell of Apollo 13. I spoke before him, and then we ended up driving over together to Cape Canaveral to meet the group that we were speaking to and just had a great experience. And that was one of the things I appreciated about his talk. He talked about how everything went wrong on Apollo 13, but it was also what do you do when things go wrong. And then he talked about all the people back in Houston at Mission Control, and are you thanking and appreciating the people behind the scenes who never get gosh, that was just fabulous. I mean, it was just great because we all have things go wrong, and we all have people that do things that maybe our customers don’t see, that we need to be training and developing and helping and thanking and all those things. And it was just a marvelous presentation because exactly what we’re saying. It was a compelling story. But I also went, oh, yeah, I need to be thinking about that. I need to be doing that. I need to support my team better. So I agree with you 100%.


Peter [00:10:11]:

Ultimately, what we talk about has to serve our audience.


Scott [00:10:14]:



Peter [00:10:15]:

So what are some of the ways my listeners can truly stand out and be distinctive in ways that are meaningful to their target audiences?


Scott [00:10:24]:

One of the things that I encourage speakers to do is, and this will come off sounding maybe a little bit egocentric, so give me a moment to complete the thought. But it’s to write a small autobiography. And I don’t mean that you’re going to publish this. I don’t mean that you think you’re important enough that the world is awaiting the life story of John or Jane Doe. But it’s amazing when you start thinking about, okay, what’s something that happened to me in the third grade? And that’s part of what I ask folks to do, is to be very precise. Don’t just start writing. Think about, okay, where did I grow up and what did that mean in my life, and what happened to me in the third grade and what happened? And you start getting very specific, and what you’ll find is there are these amazing stories that we overlook. We tend to run from our own uniqueness. We will tell a great story about Magic Johnson or some leader, Margaret Thatcher, or somebody, and not tell the audience our own story. May I give you a quick example?


Peter [00:11:42]:

Of course.


Scott [00:11:43]:

When I was a kid growing up in Cruthersville, Indiana, small town, population 1500, the big town in our county is Seymour, Indiana. That’s where I was born. That’s the same town that John Mellon camp sings. I was born in a small town. I was born in the same small town. Right. John played all of our high school dances. He’s older than I am, but he played all of our dances in school, played basketball against Larry Bird. He’s from the same area. So I remember the day that the guy that ran the clothing store across the street sprinted through the intersection and told dad they were clearing the field on the north end of town to make way for the construction of a new supermarket. We ran the only small-town mom-and-pop grocery store. And now, all of a sudden, competition that we had never faced before, and competition that could always sell a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk cheaper than we could. And the day the supermarket opened, we go in. This is Saturday, normally the busiest day of the week, and nobody comes in. It’s 10:00. We’ve been open 3 hours. We haven’t had a single customer. And at 10:00, door opens, and I’m just a kid running the cash register, right? Family members work in a business so cheap. Guy comes in, Leland local farmer and he pulls list out of his pocket, and he wrestles a cart out of the rack, and he starts going up and down the aisles of our little store, and he’s filling up the cart, and he comes to check out. And I ask him, and I got to be careful because I’m just a kid, and he’s an adult. You want to be respectful. And I said, sir, all of our friends are shopping at the new supermarket, but you came here, and I hope you don’t mind me asking, why did you shop here? And he went, because you guys liked me. I thought, no, we don’t. We do now. Right. But, I mean, I smiled at it, that I realized that had influenced my whole philosophy about customers. That it never occurred to me until I went through that process that that not only was it a story, but it was life-shaping for me in that you have to engage with your customers in a way that they feel connected, that they feel like you care, that.


Peter [00:14:01]:

They feel otherwise you’re a commodity.


Scott [00:14:04]:

Exactly right. Exactly right. So it was going through that process that gave me that speech story. I could stand up in my speech and I could say, it’s important that you foster a feeling of relationship with your customer. I still have people come up and go, is Leland still alive? Or it’s like they know him. But that’s the power of a great personal story. But here’s the other thing. Nobody else can tell that but me, right? And we go to so many meetings, and the old joke with speakers is that somebody’s telling the starfish story or somebody’s telling some old story that everybody tells. I was at a meeting one time, and there’s a story about puppies for sale, and there were three different speakers, each on different days that each told that same story. And by the third time you’ve heard it, it’s like, no, that didn’t happen to you. No, we’ve had two other speakers tell that. No, that’s part of how you become captivating is that people connect with you and your message and your story. And it begins with doing that. Now, the second thing I’m going on too deep in here, but the first is you mind the depths of your own experience and the second thing is, you got to put in the work. I think speaking is a lot like mastering a musical instrument. We wouldn’t think that somebody is some people have more natural talent than others, but it doesn’t matter how much natural talent you have. You’re going to have to learn how to play that piano or strum that guitar, and it is just practice. It is working on it. It is developing that skill. Now, books like you have, coaching like you do, all of that. What it does is shorten the curve, right? It prevents you from making some unforced errors, like what they call it in tennis, right? You know, your, your coach in tennis doesn’t make you a pro overnight, but they help you eliminate some unforced errors and, and make you better, quicker. That, that’s, that should be your goal, too. That’s why, I mean, I I had a great speech coach. I’ve I’ve got another now, but my initial speech coach was a guy named Ron Arden from San Diego. And my gosh, he was a British old Shakespearean actor. And one of the things that really changed my speaking and changed my life is when Ron Arden asked me, he said, when you get up and speak, how would you describe it? And I said, oh, Ron, I speak from the heart. And he rolled his eyes and said, oh, God, not another one. And I said, well, what do you mean? He said, well, okay, you get up this morning to go to your speech and your poor little puppy’s under the weather, and you got to take her to the vet, and the vet wants to keep her there. Now you got to run and give your speech. You’re going to speak from the heart. You’re going to inflict that on the audience. The audience is not your therapist. He said, you write from the heart and you speak from your skill. I love that those words change. Not only changed but speaking changed my life, right? Is that my responsibility to the audience is not to unload my personal situation that day. That’s speaking from the heart. My responsibility of the audience is to write what I sincerely believe and to create what I feel can be of value and then use the skill from my practice and my coaching and my work to deliver that material that’s written from the heart with as much excellence and professionalism as I can from the platform.


Peter [00:18:37]:

When you first started speaking about that. You said, this is a skill you have to hone. And that’s true with each talk and each story. Correct.


Scott [00:18:45]:

Absolutely correct.


Peter [00:18:47]:

I think some speakers and I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it with my own clients, and I probably did this early on is, hey, I nailed that. I absolutely nailed it. Don’t have to practice that one again before the next talk. And sure enough, it doesn’t come across as well. You’re not as smooth; you’re not as engaging. I always liken it to an athlete. You don’t see Aaron Judge saying, hey, I went four for four with six RBIs. I don’t have to take batting practice for a while.


Scott [00:19:17]:

What a great analogy. Yeah, I love that. I love that. Or, I don’t need a hitting coach, and I don’t need a manager. I nailed that. It’s all me. Yeah, I love that. That’s a perfect analogy.


Peter [00:19:33]:

Being from New England, we had this athlete here. You might have heard of him. You mentioned basketball and bird. We had him. Then we had this other guy named Brady.


Scott [00:19:43]:

I lived in Indianapolis for many years. He spoiled a lot of December and January for us.

Peter [00:19:50]:

But you still had a guy very similar, Peyton Manning. Brady said on the field he had six coaches off the field. He had many more financial advisors, attorneys and the like.


Scott [00:20:03]:



Peter [00:20:04]:

Yet he was out there every day practicing. Been doing this since he was eight years old, arguably the greatest ever to play the game, at least at that position.


Scott [00:20:11]:



Peter [00:20:12]:

Yet he was out there practicing, practicing, practicing, and had coaches at each aspect of his game.


Scott [00:20:17]:

It’s such a great point, and it’s such an overlooked point, because whether it is the athlete or whether it is the speaker, the audience sees the result of that, but not the discipline that created the result. Yeah.


Peter [00:20:32]:

We don’t see behind the curtain.


Scott [00:20:34]:

Yeah, exactly. There’s no reason to show them how sausage is made. Right. I mean, it’s just the way it is. Hey, before I jumped on this call today, I have a program here in Las Vegas tomorrow, and it’s a company I’ve worked for before, and they’ve asked me to do something a little different than what I’ve done before. And so I was standing up here in the office practicing this speech and making sure that I hit the button so that my slide moves at exactly the right moment to have the most impact. And I’ll do it ten more times before I go to the hotel tonight, and I’ll do it five times in the hotel room tomorrow morning before I go downstairs, and that’ll be about 25 times I’ve given that one speech.


Peter [00:21:20]:

Makes perfect sense. I’m sure there’s been a time or two in your life where you said, Man, I should have done it 26.


Scott [00:21:28]:

I’ve always said there’s three speeches there’s the one you intend to give, the one you give, and then the one where you sit down, you go, gosh, I should have done this for every speech, there’s always three of them.


Peter [00:21:40]:

In hindsight, we have perfect talks. If I had only done this, if I said this, if I remembered this.


Scott [00:21:46]:

I had a mentor when I was first getting started. His name was Grady Nutt, N-U-T-T. Grady passed away several years ago, unfortunately, coming home from his speech. But Grady was a real mentor for me in the beginning, and he was a phenomenal humorist and speaker, but just such an insightful guy. And Grady said, when things don’t go the way that they should, he said, there are three reasons. He said one is it might be the situation’s fault if the sound system breaks and you’re speaking to a crowd of 500, there’s going to be people in the back of the room upset because they can’t hear that’s the situation’s fault sometimes. He said, it might be the audience’s fault. If they’re drunk, then you can’t sober them up, right? But he said, the third is it’s your fault you didn’t practice enough? And he said, Real maturity as a speaker, and this stuck with me forever. He said, real maturity as a speaker is placing accurate fault. It’s not making yourself a martyr if the sound system blows up or the lights go out, or somebody passes out in the front row and the audience is but it’s also being willing to say, gosh, I should have worked harder on that material. Gosh, I should have practiced more, I should have gotten coaching for that. And he said, that’s real maturity. He said, what brought this up was it was one of those where I’d gotten the evaluations for a speech and 98 people had given me good marks and two people didn’t like it, and I’m beating myself up. I’m going, See, look, the two that didn’t like me, they really and he said, who are you to assume that they know more than the other 98? Who are you to be able to say they knew more? He said, what if they had a bad day, the kids are sick and they got into school late and they rushed in at the last minute, or their boss chewed them out right before the event started, and they’re not going to like anything. He said, you got to be mature enough to go. When somebody gives you a critique that’s insightful and on target, you got to take it to heart. It hurts, but you got to take it to heart. But you also have to understand that when you’re talking to a lot of people, there’s the chance pretty good that somebody in there had a bad day before they walked in the meeting, and they don’t like anybody. Your political favorite could be speaking. They’re still not going to like him. The king of England could come in. King Charles could come in. He inherited it. I don’t like him. We have to, as speakers, be open enough to take sincere and precise, and meaningful critique. But we can’t beat ourselves up simply because somebody in the audience happens to be having a bad day.


Peter [00:24:48]:

No, not everybody comes into that room in the same frame of mind that you’re in.


Scott [00:24:53]:

Yeah, exactly.


Peter [00:24:55]:

So who are some of the speakers you’ve seen successfully be distinctive?


Scott [00:25:00]:

Great question. My mentor, Grady, not many people remember him, but he had a very unique style. He was kind of like a Texas Southern Baptist. Got you. The name carries a different connotation now than it did then. But Bill Cosby in the sense that he told stories about growing up that we all instantly related to even though we didn’t grow up in a Southern Baptist home in the rural Texas. Right. It was just an amazing way of telling these stories about things that happened, practical jokes that and I learned from that, that you could create your own material. There’s a lot of things I disagree with about his business, but for the moments I saw him on stage years ago at a convention of the National Speakers Association tony Robbins gave one of the best 60 Minutes speeches I’ve ever heard.


Peter [00:25:59]:



Scott [00:25:59]:

Yeah. He was amazing. Now, interesting, it wasn’t his stage. So at his events, for me, he uses too much profanity. He does some things that as a speaker I just would not do because a company has hired me not it’s not my stage. Right. My stage I could do whatever I want. Right. It’s his stage. We paid to be there. You can do whatever you want. But just the sheer force of his personality and how he got the audience involved and engaged in making appointment. And now turn to your partner. Tell him one thing you’re going to do based on what we did and just the sheer power of his personality engaged an audience of 1000 people. I’ve got some other favorites. One of my new favorites is a guy in New York, Phil Jones. Phil wrote a book called Exactly What to Say and Phil has become one of my great, great friends. And part of what I love about Phil’s style is it’s about thinking and how we think and the words that we choose and the words that we use. And he takes something words that doesn’t sound like it’d be a very exciting or thrilling topic and he really engages the audience in such a remarkable way. It’s really great to behold. Jay Bear is another one that’s a real favorite of mine. Laura Gastner auding is another man. I’m just so excited for the future of this business because there are so many young speakers who get it who are taking their own stories and their own talents and finding new ways to express what they do. To the point you made earlier, which was so great is that they don’t take it so far out there that they’re just different. To be different, you take it too far and it’s not different. That’s weird. It turns the audience off. But they are finding just some really cool and unique ways to make it. Speaking about the speech you wish you gave, I know as soon as we’re finished with this podcast, I’m going to go, oh, I should have mentioned 15 other friends and that, but those are the first ones of many that come to mind that are just remarkable.


Peter [00:28:32]:

You mentioned Jay Baer. He’s been on this show, and I knew of Jay, but I didn’t know as much as I do now. And he was talking about his suits, his outlandish my word flaid suits. And my thought was, okay, that’s being different, but how is it meaningful? And then he explained how he goes through that whole process. The audience selects the suit, he comes out on stage, they see the suit, they go, they feel engaged into it. I’m like, wow, he took this little thing that’ll seem odd to anyone else, absolutely. But used it in a meaningful way, not just to be different.


Scott [00:29:13]:

Exactly right. Exactly right. And Jay has written this terrific book called Talk Triggers. And a talk trigger is something that you do that gets people talking about you in a positive way that extends your brand. And if all you’ve done is just give them a good speech, then people say, oh, what a good speech. It was funny. There’s a speaker friend of mine here in town, Bill Kate’s here. He’s from Annapolis, Maryland, but he’s here in Las Vegas giving a speech. And I met him for lunch yesterday. So he’s the Susie’s Palace. So we’re walking out and we’re saying our goodbye, sten talking, and this guy walks up and interrupts and he says, You’re Scott McCain. I went, yeah, I think I’m going to get a subpoena or something. And he said, oh, man. He said, I just heard you in Nashville at the meeting in Nashville, and I’ve been telling everybody about your story about Taxi Terry. That’s my talk trigger. Is there’s a signature story I’ve got and that’s what we want as speakers, is that it’s not only, oh, good speech, but I’ve been telling other people about and it might be how I got to choose your suit. And that led me to understand the importance of helping getting people engaged or through the story about the cab driver, I learned, I mean, that’s what we’re all looking for. And the guy walked away, and Bill said, So what that cost you?


Peter [00:30:39]:

Would you agree it’s better to have someone let’s say he came up to you and said, oh, I know you, but I can’t remember your name. Scott Steve. But I remember the story about Taxi Terry and what it means to me.


Scott [00:30:53]:

That’s better. Yeah. At the end of the day, it does your ego good if they remember your name. But what does. Your business good is if they remember the point you made and how it impacts them, because that’s what leads to repeat business and referral business. Peter, right now, for me, about between 65 and 70% of my speeches this year are repeat speeches. Companies I’ve spoken for before that won’t be back.


Peter [00:31:24]:

Wow, that’s amazing.


Scott [00:31:26]:

I’m so fortunate and so blessed, and I am grateful. But I also have to understand there’s a reason that happened. It’s because I told a story that people continued to talk about, and this is what we strive for as speakers. You also become a safe bet. If you’ve been there before and the audience loved you and then they had a couple of years of speakers that were okay or did something too outlandish on stage or whatever, it becomes easy for the company to go, let’s have that guy back again. He got us. He knows us. Let’s see if he’s got a second.


Peter [00:32:05]:

Speech that helps event plan as sleep at night.


Scott [00:32:09]:

Yeah, exactly. Which is what we want. And it helps me sleep at night, too, when you get a bookie.


Peter [00:32:17]:

So how can our listeners, the speakers, take their talk or themselves, their business, to an entirely different level and being distinctive, if not actually iconic?


Scott [00:32:28]:

Tell your story. Mind the depths of your own experience. Because I’ll promise you, if there’s something in you that made you want to become a speaker in the first place, or something about your job that moves people to want to hear what you have to say, then there’s something in your life, there’s something in your experience that people can benefit from hearing. And that might be a person, somebody else that impacted your life. But you own your life and you own your material. Don’t waste it given a book report on something somebody else has written or a potpourri of quotes. Tell your story, because that’s what will make you stand out. And the way that you do that is to analyze your experience, to craft that then into a compelling story, and then just practice the heck out of it over and over and over again so that you get it down.


Peter [00:33:33]:

Now, when it comes to determining those stories, I know with me, I’ll be filling out a form, whatever it might be, and they’ll say, Tell us this. I’m like, I’ve got nothing for that. Nothing whatsoever. And then I’ll speak to my wife and I said, I was filling out this form. They asked for something. I can’t come up with anything. And she say, how can you not think of this, this and this? I’m like, oh, wow, that’s great. Are other people that way?


Scott [00:33:59]:

Oh, got you.


Peter [00:34:00]:

They have trouble figuring out what story is appropriate, and should they ask others for help?


Scott [00:34:06]:

Yes. And that’s where coaches can come in, but it’s also where a supportive partner or a best friend or somebody can help as well. A quick story, one of my signature stories is about forgetting to pack. Well, I didn’t have cufflinks. I packed the wrong shirt. And then I get to the speaking engagement, and the night before, I’m unpacking, and I brought the shirt with the French cuffs, and I forgot my cufflinks, right? So I’m running out, making this mad dash to try to find cufflinks, and there’s a twist at the end of the story. But what I don’t tell is there were three other speakers. It was a speaker showcase. That’s why I was so nervous. It’s all buyers meeting planners in the room. So I finally solved the problem, get back to the hotel, plop down three of my buddies sitting in a hotel bar. I said, man, you can’t believe what just happened. And I tell the story of what happened. And Larry Winged, a speaker buddy of mine, leaned over, and he said, you’re telling that tomorrow, right? And I’m like, what do you mean, that I packed the wrong shirt? That was a dope and grabbed the wrong shirt. He said, man, that’s a story. I said, well, he said, if you don’t tell it, I will. I guess I better tell it then, right? So I told the story, and the story has gotten better and polished because you find these little tweaks that make the story better, and you’re constantly working it’s like what you were saying. You get in the batting cage and you take batting practice. You’re constantly looking for those little things about your swing that you can improve. But it’s now one of the big stories in my speeches at a lot of events, and I never even realized I do this. And I never realized about myself that that moment would turn into one of my main signature stories.


Peter [00:35:59]:

It’s amazing how much other people can.


Scott [00:36:01]:

See for us, which is why we all need coaching.


Peter [00:36:04]:

The question was about trials and tribulations we’ve had. I’ve led a pretty fortunate life. My wife said to me, the fact that you grew up with a Lispn of stutter in an inner city setting, that’s not a trial you had in your life. And I just see that as, hey, that’s just what I lived with. It’s not a big deal. Now, I get asked quite often at speaking events, hey, can you tell us about how you grew up with that stutter? You’re a speaker. You’re a speaking coach. How that transition went. And my thought is, man, it just kind of went I had to look for how this is interesting and more so, how it would be meaningful to the audience, because to me, it was, hey, I grew up with a list of stutter. At some point, for the most part, it went away, and now I do this for a living. What’s the big deal? My wife says, A little more involved than that.


Scott [00:36:53]:

A little more involved in that. Yeah, I’m sure it was. My stepson. I have two stepsons and one has stutter. And so I understand the challenges that that can present in a young life. And the point you make is so spot on because the things that we often overlook, stuff happens. And that’s just some of the stuff happened to me. You’ll figure it out. Well, no, that’s some of the great stories come from people say to you.


Peter [00:37:23]:

You must have been picked on. No, I played baseball, football and hockey and was decent at them all. Not great at any of them. And if you were decent in sports, you didn’t get picked on. So no, I didn’t have that problem either. It was like, where’s the challenge here? Where is that obstacle? A story, a good story generally has, and it took my wife to unearth it.


Scott [00:37:45]:

That’s where some of the power of this comes from. Think about how that impacts the audience too, because it might illuminate that maybe they haven’t gotten to the root of what happened in their life that has made the changes that they’ve made. That’s a great point, and I think that’s part of what we can do as speakers is help them look in the mirror a little bit differently.


Peter [00:38:13]:

Scott, what last words of advice do you have for my listeners?


Scott [00:38:17]:

Well, I think that people erroneously assume sometimes that you’re born speakers. Right. And if I’m not a born speaker, then I don’t need to be doing this. And I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s like whether it’s athletics or whether it’s music or whatever, yeah, we have to recognize that some people have more natural talent than others, but that doesn’t preclude anybody from being successful. We can all name athletes, michael Jordan getting cut from his high school team, or musicians that took forever to get discovered, all of that. But I think when we have the right direction and the right coaching, that we can improve our speaking. And speaking is one of those things that benefit us in every area of our existence. If you are able to communicate more effectively, you can lead your teams where you work. It’s not just about standing on stage. It’s about what we can do in our personal lives, in our professional lives. And it improves every facet of everything that we do when we’re able to be more distinctive or more captivating as we communicate.

Peter [00:39:34]:

I tell people that when you can communicate more effectively, it changes your life.


Scott  [00:39:39]:



Peter [00:39:39]:

Because you can change others’ lives. You can make a difference.


Scott [00:39:43]:

You can. Absolutely right.


Peter [00:39:45]:

Scott, where can my listeners connect with you?


Scott [00:39:48]:

Peter, the easiest way is just It’s M-C-K-A-I-N. Spelled a little differently, but just is there. And plus I’m on all the social media. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and it’s just Scott McCain. And that’ll take you straight to me.


Peter [00:40:06]:

Thanks so much, Scott. I appreciate that you took the time to be here sharing your ideas and advice with my listeners. I’m sure it’s going to help them attain and sustain distinction.


Scott [00:40:16]:

My privilege, Peter. Thanks so much.