Be it a conversation with friends, teachers or family, children should be able to express their thoughts. Public speaking is one way to help children to capture their audience’s attention and voice their opinions openly. Communication helps kids successfully navigate relationships and their future success. When children can express themselves, they build confidence and resilience, build better social groups, get better grades which ultimately, leads to a better quality of life.
Today we are joined by Brenden Kumarasamy, is the founder of MasterTalk, a YouTube channel that helps the world master the art of public speaking and communication. Brenden shares some amazingly practical advice for parents wanting to help their child thrive.
This episode is sponsored by Skill Samurai - Coding & STEM Academy
Full Podcast Transcript:
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Many parents are concerned that their child might be falling behind. Others are just looking for ways to help their children thrive, not just in the classroom, but socially and well into their future careers. Each episode we explore the challenges facing parents in the modern world, from behavior, education, and nutrition to device and gaming addiction. We interview a range of leaders in the area of childhood development to help you successfully navigate parenting in the digital age. Here is your host, Jamie Buttigieg.
Speaker 2 (00:32):
Hello parents. And welcome to another episode of Parenting in the Digital Age Podcast. Now be at a conversation with friends, teachers, or family. Children should be able to express themselves and their thoughts. Public speaking is one way to help children capture their a's attention and voice their opinions openly. Now, many say that nothing is in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively. And communication helps kids navigate relationships and their future success. When children can express themselves, they build confidence and resilience, they build better social groups, get better grades, which ultimately leads to a better quality of life. And today we are joined by Brenden Kumarasamy, who is the founder of Master Talk, a YouTube channel that helps the world master the art of public speaking and communication. He helps purpose driven individuals and entrepreneurs achieve their milestones in life and master their message. Now, before we get into the world of kids in public speaking, Brendan, firstly welcome to the show. Can you share with our listeners a bit about what you do and perhaps a bit about the journey that's led you to where you are today?
Speaker 3 (01:37):
Absolutely, Jamie. Happy to be on. So for me, the journey started when I was in university in college. I went to business school and I did these things called case competitions. Think of it like professional sports, but for nerds. So will other guys my age are playing rugby or football or some other sport, you probably wouldn't see me playing like cricket. I was doing presentations competitively, and that's how I learned how to speak, Jamie. So I actually started coaching when I was really young. I probably started when I was 19, but the reason wasn't because I wanted to be a YouTuber, it was because I was winning these competitions and losing a lot of them. And I started to help a lot of the students in those programs, mostly pro bono, just for free. And that's what led to the idea for Master Talk because I felt that all of the information I had in my mind wasn't available for free.
Speaker 2 (02:28):
Yeah, okay. Wow, that's a good, uh, good journey. Good story. So why do you think we struggle so much with public speaking?
Speaker 3 (02:35):
Absolutely, Jamie, especially in the context of your show. We're, we're speaking to a lot of parents and educators. So there's actually a very logical reason as to why this is. If we think about it, where do we learn how to speak, especially from a formal perspective? The answer is school. But the problem, Jamie, whether it's in high school, elementary school, whether you're in the Sydney education system, you're in the Montreal one, or, or really any education system, all of those presentations have three key problems. Number one, they're all mandatory. We don't wake up one morning and say, Hey Jamie, do you wanna get breakfast and present all day? Nobody says that. So that's problem number one. Problem number two, Jamie, is that they're all different. All the presentations are different. So you never get to pick what you're passionate about. It's never what do you care, but what do you love?
Speaker 3 (03:26):
Do you like skills? Do you like Samurai? No, it's, you gotta talk about Shakespeare and poetry. And then after you gotta think about the history of Melbourne, you're like, do I even live in Melbourne? And then you have to talk about all these random topics. And number three is all of those presentations are tied to a punishment, which is crazy if you think about it. If you don't do a great job, you actually lose 20% of your grade in the education system. So what's the punchline? We grow up believing Jamie, that communication is a chore and nobody wants to get better at doing the dishes.
Speaker 2 (03:57):
Wow. That's a, an insightful look at that. So why should parents then encourage their kids to speak in public?
Speaker 3 (04:05):
Absolutely. Jamie, in my opinion, I think the reason it's so important is because communication is the most important skill in a young, in any person's development. Not because of business or necessarily cuz of their career, that's a big part of it. But really just their life, you know, communication is every moment of every day. It's the way that we talk to our families. It's the way that we order food at a restaurant, the way that we make friends when we travel. It's every moment of our life. So knowing how to effectively communicate will really help our children get the advantage and the start they need. Especially in an era today where a lot of us aren't practicing communication nearly as much as we used to. Quick example, 20 years ago, maybe not for kids, when you give it older, if you wanted to ask somebody on a date, you gotta just ask them. But now you, you have optionality. You can text people, you can use apps. So we, we opt out of the communication.
Speaker 2 (04:58):
Yeah, yeah. That's a, that's a challenge in and of itself. So, uh, you know, a lot of kids have this inherent fear of public speaking, you know, for, for some of the reasons you even just mentioned earlier. So how could I, as a parent, I've got four kids, uh, how can I help my kids? Wow. Yeah. I'm actually grandfather too, believe that or not
Speaker 3 (05:17):
Speaker 2 (05:18):
I am indeed Brendan. I am indeed very proud. Zoe is, uh, eight months old and, uh, I'm, uh, uh, getting to do it all over again, which is fantastic. So this, this is an important question for young Zoe as well. So how can I help her, uh, manage the fear of public speaking or speaking in public?
Speaker 3 (05:35):
It's funny, Jamie, because you're talking and I'm thinking in my head, is this kinda like 30 years old? That's what I was thinking is like, I guess you're not 30. That was my instinct. So, so yes, absolutely. What what do we do about this? So, so going back to the education system, the reason children grew up and all of us, frankly, cuz we all used to be kids, is because all of the memories that are, are associated to communication are negative. So if you think back to your past, every presentation you give you don't look at it with a nostalgic feeling. Oh, I remember this presentation I gave in history class. Whereas, especially with boys, sports is something we look up favorably as kids. Cuz you don't really get punished towards something we choose to do. So we grow up watching sports our whole life. So now what do we do? I actually have a simple strategy that, that is very good for you. Jamie will save you a lot of money, especially since you got four kids. All you have to do is super simple. There's a few things, but number one, whenever your kid asks you for something, Hey dad, could I have a chocolate bar all the way to the hardest ask like a car or a pet, all you have to do
Speaker 2 (06:37):
A pair of shoes, pair of Nike shoes.
Speaker 3 (06:39):
Yeah. So all you have to do is you go back to the kid. I, cuz I, I always advise my clients who are parents as well, to never say no. So, and say, what you wanna do is you say yes. And so you say, sure, I'll consider it, but you need to prepare five minute presentation with slides. So what will happen? And, and I ask, I literally forced the parents to do this. 80% of the time the kid will give up, which is perfect for you cuz you just saved a boatload of money. But you'll be surprised the other 20% they'll actually make the presentation.
Speaker 2 (07:09):
Yeah. And, and I guess then you find those things that they're most passionate about. Right? That's, uh, that's a fantastic idea. I'm, I'm definitely gonna use that. And, and it's funny you mentioned that sort of presentation thing. Um, in our learning centers, we, uh, run these YouTube camps during holidays and uh, you know, kids often come in, uh, a bit introverted and, uh, when we ask them to video themselves talking about something they're passionate about, we start to see this shift or this change and, you know, so that was a kind of an accidental side effect. But would you recommend kids, um, I don't know, I don't know, making videos, uh, as if for YouTube in order to prepare for public speaking. Would that be helpful?
Speaker 3 (07:51):
I, I think that's a great strategy and love the work that you're doing. By the way, Jamie, the, the thing I'll add is, is I think it's a great strategy if it's working, but let me add why it works. So the reason it works with kids is because the number one career path right now that kids want to become is actually a YouTuber. Funny enough. So because of that, what we were forgetting to do as adults that works really well that we're not doing with our children, is tying incentives. The world runs on incentives. If we have a win-win relationship, whether it's in business, whether it's in life, in a partnership, it'll work. Same thing with kids. So if you go up to kids and you say, what's, do you wanna be a YouTuber? Almost every kid will go, yes. So all you have to do is tie in the YouTube incentive with being a great communicator. Well, Mr. Be's a great communicator. PewDiePie's a great communicator. So if you want to be like them or ex creator there, and that's what pushes them to actually want to practice.
Speaker 2 (08:49):
Fantastic. I love it. Is there an ideal age to start? Our kids public speaking?
Speaker 3 (08:56):
The youngest I've coached in my career, I only coach my client's kid like a small thing. So I can learn from them is five. So I, I think you could do, I could do a, you could do as young as three, honestly. You just take a baby step. So maybe one of their three, you don't have to make five minute presentation to defend what they want. But you could do something simple like the random word exercise, which is essentially an exercise where you give somebody a word, like a word, like a random word tissue box, and the kid has to create a presentation at a thin air. And by the way, this is just as effective for adults. So what I would recommend parents do that I force people to do as well, is in the car when they're picking up their kids, instead of playing music, just throw random words at each other or during dinner.
Speaker 2 (09:37):
Okay. I, I like that. It's a, a good practical exercise that our parents can take away and use. Um, now I've got another question here, which I'd like to ask is, and that's around this, um, covid disruptions and kids doing a lot of online learning. You know, how can kids present themselves better online?
Speaker 3 (09:56):
It's, it's tough. I, I think the more important question, Jamie, is how do we get, how do we get educators to keep kids entertained during these, these zoom calls? Because I think that's the big problem is the kids are so distracted with everything going on, they wanna move, they wanna do other things. So, so here's what I would say, and these are the tips I applied that I learned through, through trial and fire. Cuz kids were the hardest people I've ever coached in my life, and that's why I did it so I could learn. So I, I'm happy to share my findings with, with the group. So, so let me start the first thing, the first piece is I, I like to do something counterintuitive that educators can copy Jamie, which is simply this, have the kid take ownership by giving other people feedback on their presentations and make them the teacher.
Speaker 3 (10:45):
So what happens? So let's say like there's a class of eight to 10 kids, especially in the context of presentations. The best way to get them to present more effectively is to hold them accountable to presenting other kids effectively. So I'll say something like this, okay, Carol, what feedback do you have for John? So then Carol might not be a coach, obviously these kids are like five years old, but just the fact that they're thinking they're gonna say something and they're immediately gonna apply, that's to themself. And that's really the best way to get them to present online. If they were adults, I would give very different feedback, like very specific things. Okay, look at the camera eye contact that doesn't work on kids. You gotta, you just gotta get them talking.
Speaker 2 (11:21):
That's killer. That, that's a really great one. Now are there any, um, uh, we, we talked about how we encourage kids in the public speaking parts, but are there any specific tools or exercises that maybe I could use too, but how that, that kids could use in order to practice communication? Because I was watching one of your videos earlier and, uh, you know, it's not often, there's not often a goal, like I wanna speak in public and, and this is my goal, right? It's not really, um, uh, it's hard to give that context, right? So it's this process of practicing over and over again. So maybe you could share a few exercises if you wouldn't mind, so that parents could help their kids practice public speaking or communication.
Speaker 3 (12:03):
Absolutely. JB I agree, right? With kids, it's hard to find that incentive besides, you know, a little bit of money or buying them a toy or something. So it's not as, it's not as, uh, as specific as like with an executive, as an example or an adult. So, so here would be the advice. Let's start the simple things that we already talked about. So let's recap for sure. Random word exercises. They work like a charm. Just that alone will immediately get them results. Having them speak on and defending what they actually want. So if they want a dog, they have to create a presentation if you want this. And then you can have them go back and forth with you. That's a great way to practice communication as well. Let me give you a few other ones. Another one that I like is sending video messages.
Speaker 3 (12:42):
And these are not super complicated. Seven minute videos. I'm talking 20 seconds. Jamie, you open your phone on Facebook, you open your phone on any social media platform, and you have your kids send video messages to their relatives and it makes people's day. Let me tell you, Jamie, if if, let's say for example, you got your four kids, if you have them send videos to let's say your parents or people who are older than you, it means so much to them. So that, that's another piece that I like as well. And those three tips should get us going. I'll give you another one since you asking for more is, uh, a question. Drills, I like question drills a lot. This, this wouldn't work with five year olds, I would say 8, 7, 9 and above. It's simply this, uh, ask them one question every day about life or just in general and have them journal and communicate and answer to that question every day. And it helps their critical thinking skills and allows them to ar articulate their opinions and ideas more effectively over time. So that's five minutes a day every day and you'll have answer 365 questions in a year.
Speaker 2 (13:47):
Yeah, the power of questions, right? Um, maybe a selfish question from my point of view. I'm an introvert, right? And, uh, I'm terrible at a room full of new people. Um, I, I, whilst I do presentations, I don't enjoy doing presentations. So any advice on how we could communicate better or how, how to communicate as an introvert?
Speaker 3 (14:08):
Absolutely. So let me draw, normally you don't draw this nuance, but for this podcast, I'll, I'll do it because of the context of the show. So the, the nuance I'll draw is when somebody's 5, 6, 7 years old, they actually don't even know the difference between intro and extrovert. So there's a way to bypass this really quickly, which is to just inject belief into them. So I'll give you an example of what I mean. Let's say Sally's eight years old and she comes up to me and she goes, oh, uh, how do I speak more effectively? And she asked me that question. I, I say something very different, which I encourage people to do with their kids. I just go up to her and I say, Sally, I have a secret. And if I tell you this secret on how to get better, do you promise not to tell anybody?
Speaker 3 (14:47):
So then Sally gets excited and then she goes, what's the secret? And I just look at her, her and I say, share your beautiful smile with the world you're presenting. I guarantee you people will love you when you present. And then her face gets really red and then she presents and gets the result. Cause all kids need is an injection of belief. And that's a hundred percent lacking the education system because every, every, I don't want to emphasize too much by honestly think this, every presentation seems like someone's pointing a gun towards their kid. Like it's crazy. Like it's nuts. Like you're presenting super scared, you're in front of this thing, your classmates who are also really scared about being on a stage and it's not fun. So we need to get rid of that stigma by just injecting belief. In terms of adults though, let me draw the more mature answer, which is, there's three advantages that introverts have, Jamie, that they actually aren't even aware of as communicators.
Speaker 3 (15:36):
So number one is their exceptional listeners, like the way you're listening to me right now, because introverts speak less on average, they'll listen more effectively and adapt the message. Unlike me. Cause I'm a chatter box that's on the guest. I'm an extra extrovert as they say. So that's number one. Number two is that introverts, Jamie, are a lot better at pausing than extroverts. Pausing is the most important tool in communication where we pause to take a beat to emphasize a message. Introverts manages so easily because they speak less on average. They're comfortable with the silence already because they don't talk that much. So it's easy for them to implement. Me, not so much. I always wanna fill up space at a bar. So that's two. And then the last one is accessibility. Accessibility just means this. Jamie, let's say we take Gary Vaynerchuck, I'm a big fan of his work, massive social media following. He's an extroverted speaker, which means you either like the guy or you don't, there's no in between. With Gary, you either say love him or you say, get this guy away from me. But Brene Brown, you never say that. You always say, I love Brene Brown. Nobody says, I hate Brene Brown or else you go to jail. And that's the benefit of, uh, of being an introvert.
Speaker 2 (16:53):
Yeah, that's a good context there. Thanks Brandon. Now, um, any books you'd recommend, uh, whether for adults or for kids? Any, anything you can, uh, point, can you point us in the direction there?
Speaker 3 (17:04):
Yeah, absolutely. I would need to to think more about kids, kids specific books for communication. But the one that I usually recommend is Thirst by Scott Harrison. Scott Harrison is the CEO of Charity Water. It's a nonprofit. He started to help people gain access to clean water. But the reason I mentioned Scott's work in the context of our conversation, is because the guy's a master storyteller. He has implemented a lot of the strategies we talked about today in the way that he built the brand. And I think it's a really inspiring story for all of us and how someone used communication and storytelling to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.
Speaker 2 (17:41):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Um, before we start rounding this off, is there anything that you wish I had asked that I haven't asked yet?
Speaker 3 (17:52):
I, I wouldn't say a question. I would say, cuz we covered the education system, it's more of a tip that I think is important to share. So I'm glad you asked. Here's a question. None of us ask ourselves in communication, Jamie, cuz the biggest problem at the end of the day is the energy we have around the skill. It's cuz whenever we think communication, we think negativity, we think stress, we think anxiety. Re my version of that is a different way of approaching it, which is simply this. How would your life change if you were an exceptional communicator? How would the world change if you were an exceptional communicator? Communication is so much more than getting a promotion at work, though. I don't think any seven year old's gonna get a promotion anytime soon or really giving a presentation at school. It's the way we talk to our families. It's the way that we raise our children. It's the way that we lead a more fulfilling life. And once we focus on those positives, we can enter the discussion of communication with the positivity that it deserves. Because communication improves the quality of our life. If we don't smile to our, our, our little granddaughter and we're frowning all the time, we're hanging out with Zoe, that's not gonna work. We gotta smile so that she feels love, cared and understood. And that's really how communication gets applied across the board.
Speaker 2 (19:11):
Yeah, absolutely. So look, so much to unpack in this conversation. Here's one, uh, we do like to ask all of our guests, uh, a bit of a hypothetical. If we had a time machine and we could travel back to when Brendan was 10 years old, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Speaker 3 (19:26):
Yeah, my, my piece of advice would be a little bit deeper or Jamie, I would say, you know, Tony Rodman says always my friend, that the quality of your life is solely determined by the quality of the questions that you dare ask yourself about life. My version of Tony's quote is, I dare all of you listening to this podcast to ask one hard question about life every single day. Even if for my 10 year old self, I would've had him do that cuz 10 is still old enough for me. And I would say every single day for 30 days, just ask difficult questions. Like, if you had all the money in the world, what would you do with your time? Or what's one dream or goal that you secretly gave up on and nobody and told nobody about? Or if you could only accomplish three things in your life and only three things, what would you want those three things to be and why? These questions create clarity, and clarity leads to reflection and increases the quality of who we are in what we
Speaker 2 (20:20):
Do. That that's sensational. The quality of the questions determine the quality of your outcomes. That needs to be a book that, that, that questions, uh, you need to write that book. I first, first of all, I think you need to write a book on public speaking for kids, uh, because your YouTube channel is killer. And, uh, we're gonna send parents there in just a second. But, but that difficult questions book, you know, uh, uh, 365 questions to ask over the course of year. Wouldn't that be impactful? Right,
Speaker 3 (20:46):
Absolutely. It's definitely in the plans. Maybe, maybe towards the end of my life I'm gonna write that book, but, but communication for another
Speaker 2 (20:52):
Wait, can we can't wait that long, Brendan. I can't wait that long. I, uh, now, uh, okay, so how can listeners, um, uh, find you on YouTube of course, or any other, um, mechanism, how can they reach out to you?
Speaker 3 (21:04):
Absolutely. This is such a great conversation. Thanks so much for having, it's super fun. So two ways to keep in touch. The first one's definitely the YouTube channel. I specifically created that for people who can't afford to coach. So please feel free to check that out. It's Master Talk in one word. A lot of kids around the world watch, watch my videos and I try and keep the languaging simple so it's accessible to everyone. And the second way to keep in touch is rockstar communicator.com. I do a free workshop over Zoom on communication that everyone's invited to. You don't have to be an executive, you could be seven year old kid and join that call. And it's just me coaching people for 90 minutes.
Speaker 2 (21:39):
That is fantastic. It's extremely generous. Now, Brendan, thank you for your time, your generosity and your wisdom today. I know that many parents will get tips and tools that will change their life out of today's conversation. So thanks again for your generosity and I hope we cross paths again soon.
Speaker 3 (21:53):
Likewise, Jamie, and thanks for the work that you're doing.
Speaker 2 (21:56):
You're welcome. All the best.
Speaker 1 (22:01):
If you enjoyed the show, please connect with Jamie on LinkedIn or Instagram. You'll find links in the podcast description. Parenting in the Digital Age is sponsored by Skill Samurai Coding and STEM Academy for Kids Skills, samurai offers afterschool coding classes and holiday programs to help kids thrive academically and socially while preparing them for the careers of the future. Visit Skillsamurai.com.au.
This episode is sponsored by Skill Samurai - Coding & STEM Academy www.skillsamurai.com.au