The Penguin Latte Podcast #16 – The Wizard of Speech: Robbie Crabtree on Mastering The Spoken Word

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube

“Virtually everything you do, on a day to day basis, is public speaking.”

Communication is everything. The way you speak to yourself and the way you speak to other people is as important as breathing. Your words can either help you get to where you want to go, or they can lead you to a place full of misery and regret. I’ll remind you again because it’s so important. And I’ll even bold and italicize the word for your convenience.

Communication. Is. Everything.

Today I’m excited as all hell to be joined by a master of communication: Robbie Crabtree (@RobbieCrab on Twitter, personal website here). Robbie Crabtree is a trial lawyer with over 9 years of experience handling some absolutely devastating trials. Domestic violence, murder, child abuse, whatever horrible aspect of the human condition you can imagine, Robbie has dealt with it.

At the heart of Robbie’s work is the art of storytelling. Robbie knows how to craft an interesting story out of anything. And I seriously mean anything. He can make a story about your bar mitzvah as exciting as a day at Six Flags.

Robbie Crabtree is also condensing his 9 years of speaking experience into a premium online course called Performative Speaking. Performative Speaking teaches people how to speak in a way that’ll keep any audience on the edge of their seat no matter what you’re talking about (even bar mitzvahs). I can’t imagine a better person than Robbie to put on a course about public speaking.

The Keys to The Universe

This is very *meta* episode. Listening to Robbie speak made me a better podcaster. But even if you’re not a podcaster, YouTuber, or don’t believe that your job has anything to do with public speaking, make no mistake: the world is paying attention to the way you communicate with it. There’s no such thing as a job that doesn’t require effective communication.

There’s gems buried in this episode that might not be apparent the first time around. For example, why did Robbie talk about Yu-Gi-Oh, of all things, in one of the most emotionally difficult trials of his career? Why did Robbie ask me what time it is (even though he knew the answer) halfway through the episode? What is it about Jack Butcher that makes him such an effective communicator, while using so few words? And what’s the key distinction between public speaking and giving a speech?

You’ll have to listen to find out.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Watch on YouTube


This episode is brought to you by my weekly newsletter, Hey Penguin. Hey Penguin includes tips for improving yourself through creativity, plus a bunch of extra goodies like drafts of blog posts, art I’m digging, letters from my audience, and previews of podcast episodes. Sounds good? Click here to subscribe and get the next issue delivered straight to your inbox.

This might sound stupid, but

it’s not.

Let yourself say the stupid thing. As long as you’re not being offensive for the sake of being offensive, you’re fine.

I flinch when I hear myself editing my words out loud. This happens either before or after I speak. Sometimes both. “This might sound stupid, but…” or, “that sounded so…”

But when I watch myself being authentically stupid, without hesitation or self-editing, that’s when I start smiling. I’m not smiling because I enjoy hearing myself saying stupid things. I’m smiling because I wasn’t holding back. I was fully present in my stupidity.

Authenticity doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t apologize for saying something unwarranted. Authenticity means no hesitation, no editing.

When you’re editing live in front of somebody, you’re no longer present in the conversation. You’re in the future when you start with “this might sound…” and you’re in the past when you say “that sounded so…” But you’re in the present when you say the stupid thing. There is no ego in the present. Only your stupid Self.

Speaking mode, listening mode, writing mode. All for the present.

Be here now, be authentic, be stupid.