Public Speaking Coach Benjamin Loh was a victim of bullying during his school days.
His growing up years were marked with a lot of pain and shame as a serial bully victim. “Verbal, physical and emotional bullying – you name it, I had a taste of all of that,” he says.
Being an introvert, he wasn’t particularly expressive or very popular with people. He’d usually keep to himself and had issues that were profound and emotional in nature.
That would have remained as the narrative of his life if he hadn’t met his life coach at age 20, which started his journey of discovery and evolution. Ben says that looking back, his past and the traumas he had gone through has shaped him to be the resilient person he is today.
“One of my “more positive” nicknames, when I was much younger, was “cockroach” – you can stomp on me and put me down, but I will almost, always, bounce back up.”
Ben says he thought he’d end up becoming a bean counter after enrolling into accounting school, but that his desire to make a meaningful difference and his newfound conviction and confidence on stage as a public speaker led him to do what he does today as a public speaking coach, professional speaker, and published author.
Fueled by public speaking and his desire to change the world, Ben founded Flare Communications Coaching Pte Ltd to help empower executives in communicating efficiently and persuasively.
“I use my introverted and technical inclinations to help similar client types overcome their fear of speaking and connecting.”
The New Savvy: Tell us more about your business.
Ben: We help our clients become effective on stage, period.
In our line of work, we run tailored and customized public speaking programs for corporate executives and founders so they can maximize the returns from every speaking opportunity that falls into their pipeline. Whether it’s a D&D speech, a start-up investment pitch, or a conference presentation, we have created consistent results with the clients who have worked with us.
The New Savvy: How is your business different and how is it useful? What are the Unique Selling Points of your business?
Ben: Being trained as a coach, the way we run our conversations with our clients always meanders past the surface to find out “what are your real issues.” I mean, public speaking and the fear of it are not a new phenomenon. There are tons of books written on this topic and a brief search on Google yields numerous results.
Yet, how we do it differently is we create safe spaces for our clients to embrace speaking through public speaking board games and activities that first facilitate awareness. Only when that is achieved do we then work with our clients to achieve their strategic goals on the platform – higher conversions for sales professionals, investors’ interest meetings for start-up founders, and effectiveness on stage for our corporate clients.
Although we are a small outfit, I’m blessed to have worked with clients ranging from executives at Singapore’s Central Bank (Monetary Authority of Singapore), ANZ Bank, AIA, Motul Asia Pacific, Oracle, Axiom, and founders from Startup Boot Camp Fin Tech Singapore to name a few.
The New Savvy: Tell us, Ben, why you do what you do? What do you love about your job?
Ben: Nothing satisfies me more than seeing a client who’s so afraid to be on stage with a microphone to be totally free on stage, authentic, in a state of flow and sharing his or her voice in an unbounded fashion. That’s what I love about my job.
The New Savvy: What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
Ben: No two clients are similar. The most difficult part is helping my clients to build the faith and confidence in their voice, subject matter, and presence on stage, because, at the end of the day, I can only be down-stage supporting them while their show, has to go on.
The New Savvy: Share two advice for people who fear public speaking.
Ben: Rule #1, find an emotionally compelling enough reason for why you need to speak to an audience and let them guide you. Rule #2, don’t forget Rule #1.
On a more serious note, everyone fears public speaking for different reasons. It helps to work with a coach who can then help you unearth the deeper story and overcome it through a combination of deliberate practice, stage time, and post-mortem of your speaking engagements.
Find one more reason to serve your audience and you’ll have one less to fear to speak in public.
The New Savvy: What was one of your most defining moments in life?
Ben: Getting married last year and having my private life featured on social media too, no thanks to my gate crash challenge of getting 512 likes for a photo so as to receive my bride.
The New Savvy: Which three adjectives describe your strengths?
Ben: Relentless, achieving, and authentic.
The New Savvy: What are your financial habits?
Ben: To be really honest – I’ve been pretty unorganized. But since late last year, I’ve started daily expense tracking for a start. It’s quite a simple but powerful exercise to know where your “income leaks” is.
At the same time, I have a fixed sum invested in a high-growth mutual fund, but most of the profits from my business are being reinvested back to the business itself, and for my professional and personal development like undergoing learning programs as well as a Masters in Training & Development (MTD) program that I’m undertaking.
The New Savvy: How should entrepreneurs, fresh out of school, plan for their finances? It’s scary, isn’t it? Not to have a fixed income and delve straight into self-employment? Any advice?
Ben: There is no one size fits all when it comes to advising like that. Some people have the appetite for risk and like to be driven by scarcity.
But I’ll say for the more conservative lot, you should have at least 6 to 9 months of your monthly fixed expenses first before leaping into entrepreneurship or self-employment. And before you quit your day job, test it out with a side hustle first. Spend your after-work hours working on your business idea and if it works out on a small, controlled scale, then you know it may just have the potential to outside your day job if you so choose to.
Most importantly, don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish to skimp on the necessities like your hospitalization and critical illness insurance. You never know what can hit you, even in your prime years. One freak accident in late 2014 cost me $12,000+ in medical bills when I was just a 27-year-old, but it was thankfully covered in whole due to a hospitalization policy plan I purchased years back.
The New Savvy: What would you like to learn more financially?
Ben: Building multiple streams of income and making my money work harder for me through investments.
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The New Savvy: What are some of the limiting beliefs of women in public speaking? Are they
different from men? Are there any differences in fears?
Ben: I don’t think I’ve seen any particularly strong patterns or notions coming out. If any, they arise from some of my female corporate clients who are presenting to a predominantly male audience e.g. CXO clients or their male-heavy board.
Some of these beliefs may stem (surprisingly) from their dismal relationships with male figures in their early childhood days to their relationship with people in power and authority. In which case, my job is to help them get aware of that and build new positive reality and relationship around their subjects of fear.
The New Savvy: How can we improve women’s relationship with money?
Ben: That’s not in my expertise to share.
The New Savvy: Since you are a public figure, what’s the side of you the public never sees?
Ben: The introverted side of me that enjoys reading, disconnecting, and indulging in computer games.
The New Savvy: What’s the craziest thing that happened in the course of your job?
Ben: Watching grown-up men cry in the process of coaching, and sharing that moment of vulnerability and authenticity with them too.
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