Rob: Hey, everyone. Today, I've got Erica Davis from Communication Generation. She's presented to over 20000 kids to help them find their inner voice and communicate effectively as they grow up. We talk all things TV, radio, life skills and so much more. It's coming up on the podcast now. So thank you, Erica, for joining us on the podcast. It's really awesome to have you virtually here. It's really amazing.
Erica: What an incredible time of life it is that we can still connect like this, but have to be socially distant. It's incredible.
Rob: Is it is pretty amazing and and I understand that you have just started your own podcast a few weeks ago as well, so we can see the mike in the corner there. And that's probably why your audio is going to sound absolutely phenomenal, just the same.
Erica: Well, that and I have been doing voice overs from home for a very, very long time. So the fact that all kind of amalgamated in, well, we're stuck at home, got my mic, got my desk and I can't be in schools right now doing my business so I could put it all together and thought, oh, we'll do a podcast instead.
Rob: Hey, and some things are just meant to be. And the interesting thing that you just told us off line was that Linda, our producer, is actually responsible for you finding your way into TV in the first place. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Erica: Yeah, it's a bit crazy, but all through high school, I was that student who was like, I'm gonna be a film director, I'm gonna be film director. I'm gonna go and find a film school. I'd go to the careers counselor teacher and I'd say every week. Have you got anything new for me? And he'd say, no, Erica we don't. You've got to be 21 or over to do that course, or you've got to have experience. And I was sixteen, seventeen... and I found my way to CSU in Wagga, Charles Sturt University, where it was a production course for TV. And I thought, I'll do that first and then I'll work my way into, into film and things like that. In my 3rd year being there, your producer friend of mine, Lynda, said, "oh, we don't have an actor to host our show we're doing. Would you like to do it?" I went, "me? I'm not a presenter. I'm..." And she says "Please, I'm desperate", so I said "Okay". So I went and hosted her multi-camera production. I just laughed and smiled and my lecturer said to me later, "Hey, you're not bad at that?" I was like "Yeah, you worries, whatever". And put it out of my mind for quite a few years, actually, before things actually started to happen.
Rob: Interesting. And so that spawned like a 20 something year career in TV as as a presenter.
Erica: Yeah, absolutely, so because of the course that I did at the time, I'm not sure how things work these days because, you know, it's been 20 years, but I was sent to Channel Seven on an internship. Me and another guy and we got to go to every single department. So I was at Summer Bay for a day. I was on Wheel of Fortune for a day. I got to hang out with Disney for a day and an AFL. And it was just a really cool time in TV to be able to sit in on every single production that was happening at the time at the Epping studios. And at the end of my time there I was just this hyperactive 19 year old, and I went to the guy, the head gentleman in charge of organising our internship. And I said, I will do anything. I will take any job. I ground up. Just give me a job. I'd love to be here. He said, it's your lucky day. There's a spot going in the newsroom as a production assistant. Would you like it? I said yes. When do I start? And as fate would have it, I started the week after my final exam at uni.
Erica: So I was very, very fortunate to get a job so quickly out of uni.
Rob: Straight off the bat
Erica: So that's where it Started.
Rob: Straight into the industry, because that would have been there would be not not far. I understand you worked on the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. After that, you would've been fairly fresh and that would've been a pretty powerful experience. So early in the career on.
Erica: I can't tell you how I look back on those days and go again, just so fortunate, so fortunate, I was I landed there while they were testing new technology of present being out to talk to their order. I was doing auto cues, so it's helping them with scripts and script editing. And we had a presenter doing the Winter Olympics and I was back at being trying to quit. It was like 20 years old going, what am I doing? It's just crazy. When the 2000 games hit, I was lucky enough to be on the ground at the IBC. I'll tell you something. Being in that crew was one of the most profound television experiences I've ever had. Even though I was a production assistant, I was responsible for running around and doing all sorts of things. It's seen as a gold medalist entered our tiny little space to come and do an interview without on-camera talent at the time. Everybody would stand up and clap like everybody in the room would just stand up and clap. And I just was teary on a daily basis. Being a part of that team. So again, I was 20 something and just laughing it all up. Raelia.
Rob: That's amazing. I mean, we can see, like you, we've got quite a bubbly, extrovert kind of personality. How much of that is sort of was built into you, you know, just from your childhood and how much of that has sort of been learned, as you know, in terms of just experience of being on camera?
Erica: That's a great question. So I grew up, my dad in particular is a compact musician, singing host, and he always just made it look really fun in my business communication generation. Now I talk a lot about I say to kids who hates public speaking. And I'll tell you, half of them put their hand up. I say, hey, loves it sometimes. Maybe you get 10 say kids go. I love it. And I I always reflect for me that because of my upbringing, I always found speaking quite easy. I never saw it as being a fear. But I'm highly aware that it's not that way for everybody. So for me, if you go to a list of questions on even in high school, you can make it this. You could do an essay, you could do a speech. I just would do straight away because it kind of worked out over time. Speaking publicly is actually strength, but when you're young and you talk too much, it actually becomes almost a shameful thing. So it's like that kid's loud or that kid's noisy. So part of what I do with communication generation is the kids that speak a lot where they're a little bit ashamed of being talkative. I help them understand it's a strength. But we also talk about how to use it effectively, as in don't cut your teacher off, don't get sent into the corner because she doesn't how to control your talent that it is actually a strength. It's not it's not a bad habit being able to speak. And for kids that can't speak confidently, well, we go through a process of talking about where fear comes from and how we can handle our fears and all that kind of stuff. But yeah, for me, I did. I grew up in a massive, loud, extroverted people and confident on a stage. You know, there's other things you've got to learn, too, about backing yourself and knowing that you have something worthwhile to say, not just talking a look.
Rob: Of course. And so, I mean, we've just touched on it there. Now, your running communication generation, which is designed at bringing out those voices in kids and because I mean, you you were one of the bubbly ones, but especially now in 2020, we have kids who are tied to smartphones, used to non-verbal communication with their friends for a large majority of what they're doing. So is that really what you're trying to combat? And how did this all come out?
Erica: Yeah, it's a great question. So throughout my career, again, lucky to land myself on Sydney Weekender, where I got to present every week, but after I had my kids, because I have a mom of two kids, I I dropped my work back to one day wake where I would produce the segment, shoot the segment. And I had this extra time when my kids got to be older and it was time to return to the workforce sort of full time, so to speak. I actually took a job as well as doing Weekender, because I'm a bit crazy like that. I like doing a couple of different things at once. I don't know why I was hosting a radio show. I do that for a while and then I found this job that I couldn't shake off. I'm going to apply for this and see how it goes. What I did and I ended up being a facilitator for a company in behaviour change programs. And I'd never heard of this before. But the ad was so incredible. It said, do you want to change the world? Do you love children? Do you value communication and all this kind of stuff? And I was let go find out what this is. And after I applied for it, I realized it was most mostly a presenting job. It was going in front of kids at schools and teaching them content that's already been written, but delivering it in a really powerful way and hopefully changing some behaviors in certain areas, that kind of thing. Did that for a little season, but ended up having a bit of a physical injury. I had a back injury and I had to sort of let that go for a while while I was recovering. I was having a conversation with my husband and he said, Do you want to go back to this? And I was like, I do. But I don't like I love talking to kids. I love the concept of behavior change. Like that is something I'm so passionate about. But the content, it's good for what it is, but it's not what's on my heart because. What's on your heart? I said it without thinking. I went communication because. What do you mean communication? And I said, well, in my head I talk to over twenty thousand kids in that Job...
Erica: from school to school. I'm talking from year one to year six. At that time. And I said they don't look me in the eye and they don't back themselves. And some of them, when I say, why don't you jump out the front and help me? They couldn't think of anything worse. And I got this real passion in my spirit. And I've got two kids as well who I've seen go through those youth groups. And I've seen conflict in the playground stuff. And I've seen. Oh, I couldn't do that. I'm not good enough stuff. And I've just gone. You know what? This there's a space here that I'm not seeing being filled. I mean, teachers, obviously a beautiful and they've all thanked me when I come and they say we tell them this stuff all the time, but you come in and make it really fun and they listen to you.
Erica: So that's sort of where it all started.
Rob: It's... I want to pick up there in just a second, but something that I just learned from that. So you're referencing Karrikins group and your time there.
Rob: So that's an interesting thing. I actually. So Karrikins was founded by Daniel Shehan, which and I was familiar with his books and he was a very young author. And he's I can remember whether it was his first book or not. And it was called Flip and came out in 2007. And that was not far after I'd actually started my own business journey. And so I was quite intrigued by his books and followed what he was putting out. And I would listen to his audiobooks on the way to meetings and things like that. And and because he was a real proponent of Gen Y and and really trying to help corporates learn to talk. How did. Sorry, I'll start that again. He was really trying to educate corporates in how to communicate with Gen Y, who was sort of this misunderstood generation. And of course, you know, 15 years have passed now and now it's all about the millennials and Gen Zs or, you know, however you want to phrase that. But so I didn't quite appreciate from the understanding I had that you were doing that work. Or that's the particular work that you were doing in Karrikins. So can you, I don't know, can you give me some understanding of the inner workings of of how that all came about and what they were trying to achieve? And then I'd really love to come back to what you're doing now.
Erica: Yeah, yeah. Awesome. So like I said, I when I saw the ad, I was blown away and I actually said in my interview they did. They may even remember those two. Ladies and gentlemen. Who was the head creative officer? And and they said, what made you apply? And I said, to be honest with you guys, I thought this was a scam. And they laughed. And then in the head creative office, this is how do you know it's not? And that's when I knew I loved them, cause they were hilarious.
Rob: Hey, that that's got to be the best answer to the best answer I've ever heard. Yeah.
Erica: I did, and then I said I'm a creative who loves a spreadsheet, and then he again said, thank you. I've been telling these people this for years. So we connected really quickly and and I would have stayed there for years doing that except when my back happened. I had to actually sounds really terrible. I couldn't actually walk for a couple of weeks.
Erica: And I was having lots of testing and MRI's, I had a disk slip thing. And I said, and they were beautiful. I wanted to keep me. And they were like, we'll do anything. And I said, look, I just can't guarantee that when I'm better, I'm gonna be able to jump up and down and talk to you once they were again. But but love you hate. Since we parted beautifully, it was all good. But being in schools on their behalf, their content was brilliant. It was written so well and it was my first opportunity to understand what behaviour change programs were and hearing again. The chief creative officer speak to us as a group. I remember just getting us in Sydney at the Gallup building. We were having training and I just ran into the break, rang my husband away. I think I've just found my future. This is what I want to do with my life. So I was still working at Sydney Weekender and at the time again I was I was doing their training and I got a call saying Melbourne weekend has just started. We need you down there in two weeks time to get that show started. I was like, how are we going to do all this?
Erica: Now, I just met at work and my family a very, very accommodating of my craziness.
Rob: And I mean, we all know, when you really doing something you passionate about, you know, the lines blur and and the energy required to turn up every day, that almost diminishes because you just driven to do it anyway. And it's...
Erica: Unfortunately, I did put my back out. That...
Erica: Was the consequence
Erica: Of doing too much.
Rob: I know. We moved office in December and I ended up in hospital, but that's another story.
Erica: On no!
Erica: I think I'm invincible is my problem. And
Erica: Then and then my buddy says to me, slow down, Erica. And then I have to pick what I'm gonna do instead.
Rob: I'm a little bit the same way when people heard that I took myself to the hospital, they knew it was serious. Yeah.
Rob: Anyway, that's a story for another time.
Rob: So fast forwarding back a few years or forced fast-forwarding again a few years, you've decided to venture out on your own and start community communication generation. And...
Rob: How did that sort of what was that cataclysmic? Yes, I'm going to do this. Obviously, you had that drive and you sort of felt that call to do it. But what was that pivotal moment where it all came that.
Erica: Yeah, it's it's really, I think, about aging and aging well, I often say that being out of back yourself and go this is actually a good idea can take a long time for me. I loved working for other people and giving them my best. I'd never done anything like this where it's like me taking an idea of mine and going, let's see where it leads. And so it happened over the space of a year. So sadly, again, my back started to go out and it was the second time that it had happened.
Rob: Sure, yeah.
Erica: So I Knew roughly what was going to happen and how long it was going to take. And in that time, instead of getting a little bit again, I'm married to a counselor slash psychologist. So I know how the brain works. I knew that I could either get really depressed and go, oh, I is all I could do is lay here and do nothing. Or I could take that forced space to do something with it. And so what I did was, again, I'd already had that conversation with my husband. And the idea of communication had been so strong. And it was my background. I mean, I I have a story from when I was you need to and I read a book to the class for the first time. And and my teacher gave me this massive clap. And just like little moments like that became present to me, it was like speaking. We had a talking to communicate. It's it's not a bad habit for a kid that talks too much. It's actually a gift and a strength. And nowadays, it's a requirement to succeed in life. So I thinking, well, how do I put all this together with the experience I've had with the three things hit me really strongly in that time in that forced rest space, which was the children, particularly communication in the playground. So friendships, conflict resolution had a diffuse emotional responses. And how do you teach that to a year five kid? And the second one was public speaking, which is something I've never feared. But I understand why it is scary. And I researched the neuroscience behind what the brain's actually doing when we're fearful.
Erica: And then the third part was, you know, communicating to ourselves. That is the most precious form of communication we need to harness. And kids are constantly telling themselves, I'm not good enough, I'm not as good as her. I can't play soccer like him. And they're constantly on this narrative of I'm not good enough. And so I put those three things together. I called it playground by public and private. And then my three sessions that I do, particularly for year five and six, because they're about to go to high school and going to high school is not an easy transition. And so what I do is I spend that time with them over three sessions and I role-play it and it's hilarious. Like I get kids up. I teach them what assertive language is as opposed to passive and aggressive. And I've got teachers at the back of the classroom going to me to keep going. And I've had an assistant principal grabbed me at the end of the three sessions and he said, Erica, I spent most of my my recess and lunch like trying to umpire these fights between these kids and trying to help them understand each other's point of view. What you've done with them today, I'm hoping, will give them tools to start doing it even themselves. And that just brings me joy. So that's exciting to me.
Rob: Hey, that's amazing. I think an interesting thing that you've touched on there is around this internal narrative that kids have with themselves, and because when they're fighting or they're, you know, they're yelling and screaming instead of having a, you know, a sensible conversation because they're kids. That's a little bit easier to deal with maybe than that internal narrative where you don't necessarily see or hear what's going on. And especially, I'm guessing, kids that are in year five and six, they're starting to get mobile phones about to head, you know, and and they're immersed in social media. And so they're not only seeing that sort of skewed vision of people's lives through Instagram or Facebook, they're having a skewed narrative internally. So how are you trying to address or you know, or what do you what benefits do you provide for those sorts of kids?
Erica: Well, at the moment, the program can now I now have talks for you one, two, three, four. All of it. But the cornerstone one that I first created was the year Five, six one. And in that I do a little thing where we build a chatterbox, you know, those from when you were little
Erica: The little paper thing.
Erica: And in it, it's got the inside of the chatterbox where you would write all your funny comments. I've got on the left hand side. What am I working on? So what I do is I try to do what's called positive reframing. And so I have my my smiley emoticon ball that I take to the school. And I say now and I put up on the PowerPoint, I'm gonna to put a bunch of phrases up here if you can relate to any of these. I want you to Pop your hand up and then I throw the ball to them and they've got to tell it to me in a in a flipped way. So it might be I'm terrible at reading. And then you see these little hands I go, "Alright. Here's what we're gonna do". And I throw the ball and they catch it and I go, what's a different way of looking at that? And after I've given a few examples, it makes you cry. These kids start to say, reading's not my best, but I'm working on it every day. And I go, that's right. And then they throw it back to me. Now, that's a public game. So a lot of the really deep stuff's not going to come out in a game like that. But the principle of it is being reinforced because I do it about 15 times and then I say sometimes very boldly, I'll go, oh, I've run out of examples. He's got another example of something that they're not feeling really good about. And someone will go, Oh, umm, one of my favorites is "that girl over there hates me because she didn't talk to me today", and all the teachers are going "keep going, keep going". And then I put a hand up, I'll throw .
Erica: Maybe she didn't see me. Maybe I can't assume she's thinking about me. And I go give them a clap, anyway. Let me get to the chatterbox. There's a column that says I'm working on. And I challenge them all the things that in your internal you know, I don't use keywords, but in their internal narrative that they saying I'm bad at, I'm. I want you to write on this piece paper. But I'm gonna change if you talk your language and it's gonna say I'm working on. So what are some things you could call yourself working on? And then they start to write down the things that in the past they've said I'm terrible at. Now, the next column says things I'm grateful for. And I say to them, I think you're pretty amazing. I reckon there's at least three things you're amazing at. And I want you to write this down for me. All I want you to write down things that are amazing in your life, like your family or your pet. Well, you soccer team, well, you you dance class. And so now I've got two columns. I've got what am I working on? What am I like? Amazing. And when we fold the chatterbox all up the outside is my first session. I explain to them how to deal with their friends. It's got all the information on the outside. When you open it up, it's all my public speaking stuff and how to keep you lead on and how to stay strong on platform. But the internal no one else gets to say and I say to them, when you open that up, I want you to see that you're working on things and you're incredible at things. And I have warm fuzzies around the outside from...
Erica: Their friends. And so when I fold it all up, I go, no one else needs to ever see that. But you. But when you are doubting yourself, I want you to open it up. I want you to remember that while you get things you're working on, there are still things you're amazing at. And here's what all your friends think of you, too. And it's quite profound. And I often walk out from that session a little emotional. Some
Erica: Kids are hugging me and thanking me. But it's what makes it all worthwhile is that particular session for me.
Rob: I mean, it's really powerful stuff. And I think at that age we can really easily under appreciate the impact that this will have, not just through their teenage years, but it as they start to come into the workforce. You know, if they've never spoken to anyone. You know, if I can't talk face to face, how are they going to have a job interview? How are they going to do something like this? You know. And, you know. So do you include things that are sort of setting them on that path, even though they they won't know it just because they they're malleable at age 10?
Erica: Yeah. Well, I think I'm a bit cheeky because like I say, the very first session I start with who hate speaking in public and I go right. I know who you are now.
Rob: I'm on You. Yeah.
Erica: Yeah I'm on you. By the third session that I had a couple months back before we were all quarantined, I got the chance to finally get up. One student who I had seen avoiding eye contact with me the entire time. Always put his hand as far down as possible when I said he'd like to come out and help. And I looked over at him and I said, How about you come out and help me with this last thing? And this was actually in the session where I'm actually helping them with just some tools of speaking. So I do do some just practical level voice, pitch posture. All that kinda stuff just for small a small pup. And all we had to do was a 30 second speech. And he's like I said, how about you come and I'll help you? You can trust me. So that's part of my job, too, is gaining their trust and being a safe person. And he stood, he came up and he stood there and I said, okay. And I had these cards like little topic cards that I've made. And so this was a birthday speech. I said, you need an in, a little bit of content and an out. My radio background, but that's how you do it.
Rob: Yeah. Sure.
Erica: And I said, all right. So we could start with today is Rob's birthday. I've known him since I was 10. Remember that time he got in trouble for this? So let's all sing. That's your out. That's all he had to do. And he's looking at me going. I can't do it. And I said, we'll just. And I got right in front of him like this. Don't worry about the audience. Any student told you said it to me. I took two steps back. He said it again. I took 10 steps back. And in the end he said it with projection and pace and everything to the crowd. And I nearly cried because I was like, you can do it.
Rob: That's amazing.
Erica: So it's helping them overcome that. I can't. Button is huge. I also offer sort of private sort of like I call the masterclasses for anyone that wants to develop their speaking further. And I just take a small group of kids and teach them more and more about the practical side for the kids that can't even get up these sessions. They're not very threatening because there's so many of them listening at the same time. So when I do grab someone like that up, it's a very. And I said, where's the applause for this? And these kids in this class went nuts.
Erica: They were like,
Erica: He never does that. So, yeah.
Rob: That's amazing when you obviously or spanning most of primary school and and beyond. But if we stick with primary school for now. How do you see the differences in what their challenges are when, say, they're in, you know, year 2 versus year 6? Because we see very young kids are usually outgoing almost by default before they before they hit school. But then it's sort of as they evolve intellectually and emotionally, that changes. So what sort of things would you. Would you try and cover for a younger audience? And how does that sort of progress?
Erica: Yeah, so I think and particularly with the syllabus, too, for kids at schools, the younger ones, it's all about sort of identifying your emotions. It's like I feel sad when or I feel happy when and sort of working with them to identify emotions. I do a lot of stuff around feel, think, act. Not just feel. Act. Oh, I feel hurt. I'm gonna hurt someone. Or I feel. And so we throw in this thing sort of section there and talk about, oh, how can we process that? And again, for little as I do most of things with games, with emoji stuff, because that's really current right now. You know, my bowl sort of game, the reframing game. But I feel that as they get that little bit older, as we all went through in school, we we worry about what our friends think. We've either found a narrative of ourselves either being passive or possibly aggressive, but the assertive pace that they're not really sure about. So one time I actually I always ask at the beginning of that session, who knows what assertive means? And the answer is I get a very varied. Like some people will say cranky. Some people will say me. And I'm like, okay, great, good tonight. And I go through this whole thing and I say, all right. So passive here can be my passive person today. I got an actor, actor at the front who can be my Grossi person. Sometimes I pick the smallest person because it's really cute. And so now they're standing on the side of me and I go, I just take one more volunteer and I get hit someone up on the screen. I put the definitions. And when we get to assertive, it just is someone who can state clearly and effectively what they need and want while being kind of respectful to others. Like that's a kid kind of version. And then I do a role play. So I say I'm the canteen lady at school and I didn't give you back your dollar. I said, technically, if I was there, I probably would forget because I'm terrible at math and they all laught at me. Now, in your characters. I want you to come and ask me for that dollar. Okay. Definitely. Characters are your passive aggressive. Okay, cool. And Arun laughs the passive person goes, Can I? And runs away. The aggressive person comes and threatens to hit me. And I make jokes about that. And then the assertive person says, Hi, I'm Erica. I was here a minute ago. You give me my dollar and I. I'd kind of need that back. And I go, there it is. Give him a clap. One child came up to me and said, I didn't know that's what it was. I thought being assertive meant being mean. So what I'm trying to do is just show them that with their language, with their words, with their communication, they can actually achieve things while still being kind and respectful. There's no need to scream and make your point. You have to run away and be dramatic. And I overact for the kids and I go, I'm never going to leave school again. They may laugh at me. He's never done that. And they go. So how about let's do an example of I've overheard someone in the playground say something mean about me. Let's try that one. And then they'll go and they do it
Erica: The passive first thing they get. Anyway, at the end of the session, I say to them, if you feel brave. Point to who you think you'll most like at the moment. And a lot of points for aggressive. A lot of them points passive. And I say, right, here's what we can do. Every time a situation comes up, we're going to take a tiny step into the middle until we can call ourselves assertive. So could happen every night at every decision you make. We're gonna take a step closer to finding the right words, the right time and the right body language to say what we want to be strong and what we want and still be good listeners. So it's a powerful session in that sense.
Rob: That's awesome. So I wouldn't mind shifting gears a little bit. Obviously our intention and some of that focuses on business and and while pretty much, you know, a large majority of business owners have kids and this information is really interesting as well. I want to sort of explore the business side a little bit as well. In particular, the the challenge in engaging schools for something like this. And because obviously a very passionate about this topic, but it's a business as well. And so how do you sort of find that balance between, you know, business decisions and emotional decisions because you are making such an impact, but ultimately, you know, you need to find that middle ground.
Erica: Yeah, it's clearly not my background, business organizing business running a business. No idea. When I started, it was just like I was say to my husband this morning, I think I'm possibly the world's most optimistic person. I don't know why I did that. Oh, I'll start a business. It'll be fine. Clearly that's not...
Rob: Hey, someone's got to Be it, might as well be you.
Erica: That's just right. But because the concepts I felt was strong in that sense, I was like, well, I'll just. I think I called it a soft stop. It's going to Suster. I'm just going to throw it out there to a bunch of different people and see if they want to take it up in the first season of me releasing this. Like even the promotional material and all that sort of stuff was just very quickly done and not not very effective in a sense. But but the idea of teaching children communication obviously took on because I had a few bookings happen straight away. And I went to the schools and I did it and they were like, oh, this is great from here to Sydney and back in. But then I got a little sidetracked because I then started hosting a drive radio show in Melbourne at the same time, because obviously...
Erica: You still need to earn a living even...
Erica: When launching a business. And that sort of took over for a little while, but it actually reminded me. So I was on air talking about kids and communication, which is crazy. So it's the same. My same passion coming through in all my different mediums, basically. Or I'd be shooting Sydney weekend to stories and my producers would be like, oh, my kid would so benefit from that because I could not shut up about it. I was talking about it everywhere. And so, yeah. So from being able to do a few sessions, I've had a few teachers ask me, would you be interested in speaking at this leadership session? And I'd be like, yeah, what do you want to hear? And then I'd do customized content. So I wrote some talks around leadership, which I actually just recently presented at Macquarie Uni
Rob: Ah nice.
Erica: Because they heard about it and so, so things are happening, but I'm not a business guru. I do have friends that I which has been very, very helpful and I have people helping me in that area. But as long as the content is strong and the engagement is strong, I just keep doing it. And before Katrina happened, I had quite a few bookings I've had to postpone. So is hopefully going to pick them up again when this is all over.
Rob: Yeah, of course. And so how did you evolve? Obviously, you started your own podcast. Was that something that was in the works prior to covered or was that a result of effectively schools shutting down and this old staying home?
Erica: It was escalated very quickly, escalated, so I had an idea that I would do my sessions in school and I'd come. How do I do to do a podcast around communication? Not just kids, although that's primarily what I'm doing in schools. I wanted to talk to all different business and industry professionals around what is clear and helpful communication in your world and what is hard to deal with communication in your world and just have the conversation around how can we all improve the way we communicate? Because to me, listening is actually one of the hugest keys of communication. But these days, social media, any kind of media, it's monologues. It's just people telling their opinion, the end. And so I wanted to have the conversation around what is communication in 2020 anyway. Katrina hit. And I was like, well, I'm going to have to escalate this and start going say, now I'm interviewing people in all different professions and just saying, how's it going? Not being in society at the moment, not communicating face to face. How is that affecting your business or your work life or your TV, radio, poetry, whatever it is you work in? How are you communicating? And I've found it very fun and very interesting. A lot of the different responses.
Rob: That's interesting. And we were a little aside, we had, you know, the podcast was was slated for something we were doing. We just sort of brought forward those plans a little bit and, you know, not by a huge amount, but it became a focus as things shifted so rapidly. So does that mean your good luck with your in-person once coveted passes? Are you looking to do more in a professional setting and in a professional space as well? Or do you think you'll fall back more strongly on the schools and the kids again?
Erica: I am very excited about what could happen after Kobe. I think. I think this time does give you a lot of time to dream. As long as you're not being anxious about what's going on in the world, again, is that part of your brain can take over, and you...
Rob: Sure, yeah
Erica: Don't get if it prefrontal cortex. But my dream center, before it happened, I had a very fun session with two wonderful business women they saw online. I did a little interview on Triple M about my business. I'd heard it and they said, this is a bit random, but do you help adults? I think absolutely. What? What do you need? And they were like, well, we present to people in a two to a guide business, but sort of lost our confidence in speaking and a family's courses around public speaking. But what you talked about, the inner you and your internal stuff, that sounds more like what I need. I said I'd love to meet. So I met with these two wonderful women. And after spending an hour or two just chatting through what is you call the life of your business. What is the message you're trying to send? How do you want a package? You. But more than that, when you're standing in front of people. What is it that's holding you back from communicating with Cleese? Clear strength and honesty like this is amazing. Oh, cool. And I was scheduled to meet with them again. And of course, we can't until this is all done with the same being good. But I would love to take some of the building books that I've found over the years and the things that work for me and the things that I've seen work into any business organization. Even the teachers at schools at times need that little confidence boost when it comes to communication. So, yeah, the sky's the limit.
Rob: I think it I mean, it's an interesting sort of world we're in right now. And part of it is due to covered. And part is just technology. But, you know, 20 years ago or like when you started working on camera yourself, it was sort of in a very exclusive club of people that would be seen on camera. But these days, everybody is launching content. Everyone's launching podcasts because it is that next generation. So do you see the market for, you know, skills training and media training becoming much bigger as a result of that? People just trying to lift the quality of the content they're delivering.
Erica: Yeah, absolutely. And again, I think this experience I had with these two lovely ladies, first thing they said to me, if I am presenting to a bunch of people like an audience in a theater. But I mean the Foya, I'm so much better in the Foya than I am on the stage. I said, I can help you with that. So what you're getting in the fire is is cuz you're getting verbal feedback, you're getting facial expressions from the people you're talking to. And so what you do is is your spirit lifts with that, like your brain's going, you know all the good chemicals are being released. They like me, they offend me. I can speak confidently. You stand in front of people. No one's looking at you confidently. No one smiling. You're not getting all those cues. And so I was, you know, helping them to use their own sense of it. They use their own sense of who they are, what their messages, their passion for, what they're talking about. To to present or to communicate a message the same way you would with someone in a foya, you know, like a group of people.
Erica: So I think what we're finding is that everybody is launching content. But sometimes the presenting stuff might be a bit. Hey, everybody. And it's a little stilted. And that's not a criticism. It's just they're not finding that. I'm talking to one person thing. And, you know, I had over 700 stories to the Sydney weekend. And every time it was just four of us there shooting. You don't have a massive group of people affirming you and you just have to find it within you to go, oh, my gosh, the cry. And this is incredible. Like, you've got to find your enjoy before you can communicate a message. But if the market's being flooded with a lot of people sort of just regurgitating information, then we lose a little bit of that connection. I think.
Rob: I mean, we talk about these skills in a professional setting or, you know, sort of setting kids up for life skills and that sort of thing. But it sort of does work in reverse, even just maintaining friendships and and, you know, relationships as well, because we get so used to operating in a in sort of a Chinese wall style context where you can't see it even if someone posts a comment. It's not a you know, you don't pick up on that initial interaction and you know. So do you see benefit when you train someone professionally, a way where you address something specifically, say, for media training? Do they? Do they see that benefit carry through, even if it's unintentionally into their personal lives?
Erica: Yeah, I think that, again, like when we talk about communication, I think a lot of people think it's just being able to speak well, and that's okay. I mean, that that's kind of what we kind of learn at times. It's like you need to do a public speech for class or you need to do group work and you need to work together. But one of the most powerful things and I actually haven't cooperated this in my sessions for year 5 and 6 am teaching you five. It's a little bit hilarious. It's called active listening. And so active listening. You don't just go, yeah, I know his that's all kids do.
Rob: Sure yeah
Erica: And even my son the other day I was trying to tell him cause. Yeah, I know.
Erica: Really. Do you really know it's actually feeding back what the person said and possibly attached the emotion to it. So for example, I got two boys up to demonstrate and I said, you've just won the grand final for soccer. You're his mate. And you're gonna reflect back what he said. So he knows he's been hit. He goes, hey, I won the grand final in soccer and I feel great. That's a great you guys. Did you get a goal? Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Start again. We did it like fifteen minutes. That was hilarious in the end. I got him to say, oh, you won the grand final and you feel great. That's amazing. Now you ask a question. And so it's just a little way of end on radio. I was on a community radio station and we would do fundraising appeals. And in that, people would ring out with the most heartbreaking stories. And if I had just said, oh, that sucks, here's the phone number, you can't do that. You know, and I'd say
Erica: So you find yourself single with three kids and a mortgage to pay. Obviously, that's gonna be stressful. And they're like, yeah. And then they they feel safe with you because you've actively listened. And so I think some of the times when I share that information with corporate stuff and I'm professionals, they kind of go, yeah, okay. All right. And I said, you can do that with complaints. Hey, I hate your service. Okay. So could you explain a bit more? Yeah. You didn't do this. And I felt really let down. So you felt really let down because your expectation wasn't met and then like. And this. Yeah. These businesses. Okay. We can do that. That's it. And then it takes the power out of you. You don't have to take it personally. You just can keep it in that realm of. I'm just listening. I'm just feeding back. I'm.
Rob: Yeah, it does really translate into, yeah, good customer service. And and, you know, having having those people feel heard and then suddenly they can go from angry to, you know, on your side and collectively find a solution. Right. So it's a good business practice. So obviously, you've worked in a radio and TV. And like kin for someone who doesn't really understand that business. So sorry. Being in the business, not the business of radio and TV. What are the sort of the challenges between those two different mediums where you've got radio, which is obviously, you know, voice only. And you have that caller feedback. What skills can you transfer between, say, that and and producing a segment for Weekender, where You're standing by the pool?
Erica: I did stand by the pool quite a lot.
Erica: Funny story, actually, my kids got asked once when they were really little, what does Mummy do? What do parents do for work? And they said, My dad works at a hospital. What does Mum do? She lives by the pool eating chocolate because they came on to shoot once, where my final piece to camera was I had the pop a chocolate and say something. And that was quite hilarious. I was
Erica: Like, no, I do more than that, I promise. So yeah, it's very different. So I was on I had been doing TV for quite a few years on camera before I did my very first radio job and all. My goodness. The difference between the two mediums hit me pretty hard in the sense that on radio you really are speaking to one person. And it's very it's a good use of what kind of intimate in a sense, because people
Erica: Really feel they get to know you. And this shows that I had were Morningstar shows. So it was like lots of top topics. What the call is. Hey, what do you think of this? Give me a call. Yeah. I ended up talking to a lot of people. Some people were just beautiful and woman loving and we would have these great chats. I also had some people that were cranky or angry about whatever we were talking about. And I had to work with that. It does. It stretches you because you have to. It's very vulnerable and you have to use your communication skills in order to keep a show going and interest for the listener. But also, you know, I respect for the coal, but self-protection in case it's getting a bit too close. People follow you on social media. They write to you and ask you questions about yourself. So it's just keeping good boundaries, but also being open and real.
Erica: I think authenticity would be the main thing. Yeah.
Rob: Because it's sort of an interesting thing, the balance between radio and TV is probably not too dissimilar to what people are experiencing now, where they've suddenly been thrown into a work from home environment and gone from board meetings to Skype calls or Xoom calls. And, you know, it's I think we've all had those experience where someone sends you a really cranky e-mail and all you have to do is pick up the phone and talk to them and talk through things. You know, is there anything that you can maybe offer people in terms of translating from a face to face where you can pick up on the nuance? Two more emails, more video calls. Something like that.
Erica: Yeah, I often have said, particularly to teenagers, because I do speak in high schools as well. There's no tone in a text, there's no tone. The three components of communication are words, tone and body language. And words are actually only 7 percent according to a study. So the words we use can often be completely misconstrued depending on the tone or the delivery or the body language. So I got a text message once. I often referred to that says, Hi, Erica. Merry Christmas. It's been a real low to meet you. Was like, well, autocorrect from Joy say, like, if you took that seriously, you'd bury your head in the sand, you'd become wounded and you'd go, oh, you go, oh, that's clearly not what it is. I also myself have received a cranky email in the past from a superior and I've just gone. Yeah, I that this feels yucky. I don't like this. And I rang. Hey, may we cool. I just feel it's been a misunderstanding. And straight away. Tone and words working together. Now you talk about Zoom. You've now got the three working together, words, tone and body language coming through a screen.
Erica: And so I think if you can get all three, you're going gonna get a clearer sense of what the communication is. If you're more than an email, a text or even sometimes a phone call, because you're actually looking at the person and the B and A diffuse conflict by talking it out. I think it makes a difference. And then you get it. You use your assertive language, not your aggressive and not your passive. You passive would pay a fine. Then you know that that kind of thing. Aggressive means you can't speak to me like that. And the assertive is is the active listening. Hey, so you've got an issue with how I did that. Could you explain to me more so I can understand? And then once you've done that, you've opened up the channel for communication, for someone to say, great, I have permission to tell them. And you've got to remember in your brain, this isn't criticism of your character or who you are. This is just your work. This is just behavioral. We can work through this that kind of thing. Yeah.
Rob: Yeah, of course. Because I read an article recently that was around this video conferencing trend that's basically come out of nowhere for everybody. And there was it was I think it was an opinion piece and it was around. Can we please turn the cameras off? And I was sort of surprised to read that article because I feel for people going from an in-person interaction to a remote interaction. Having video and audio is far less likely to make mistakes or, you know, because they're missing that key body language or that key component. Sure, it's different when people are doing it from their loungeroom and their dogs walking around the background or whatever the case may be. But I mean, you can't. Do you have any thoughts on why people
Erica: Mm hmm.
Rob: Might be reluctant to use their video?
Erica: I think it's confronting I think a lot of people would be a little intimidated to be seen especially. It's funny. My husband knew that I would. He's still going into hospitals and working EU counseling. So he's still out in the world, whereas I've been doing a lot of work from home and really only going out when I have to stay at home. That's what we're doing. But it's funny you start to think about reentering the world and there is a little bit of, well, how does that work? We've been a little bit institutionalized. I mean, I think they say it only takes 21 days to make a habit. Well,
Erica: Here we are. And I think people having to do even what we're doing now can get a little fearful. Like, I don't want to be seen at the moment. I'm feeling like we're all huddled down in morale. We're all in lockdown. Therefore, I don't want people to see me. But I think if we keep the cameras on, there's something we have to face ourselves, which is we have to see ourselves. We have to see ourselves in relation to someone else. Otherwise, we are going to get so locked down that we're going to forget how to interact with one another. And when the doors are open, we come out blinking in the sunlight. We're going to forget how to interact.
Rob: Cafes will be empty because everyone's got takeaway anyway. Yeah.
Erica: So, yeah, I think I think if you can be brave and have your business meetings and have you work meetings or even just get them with your friends and remember to look each other and take the body cues and the tone, it'll keep our communication, I think, stronger than if we just sent off text or just write our thoughts and feelings on a wall on a Facebook and not want to hear from anybody else. I call that a monologue and I much prefer life being in a dialogue with others.
Rob: Because I think even when we do think about social media interaction and as you say, posting on a wall and getting a comment is sort of different to getting immediate feedback. But obviously there's tools like a Facebook live or an Instagram live or something like that. But there they seem to be selectively used. Do you think that's because of those same fears?
Erica: I actually did a little video for myself to say I'm making a podcast now, I've been presenting almost 20 years and I was a little nervous.
Erica: It was weird, like I held my camera. Oh, how am I going to do this? I want to say this is weird. I'm so good at. I don't get nervous about these things. But for some reason, putting something on Instagram. So I think the word for me is he's authentic. And then it makes authenticity can make you feel vulnerable as you're showing like your true self. There's no filter. There's no producer there. There's no editor making it look good. There's no soundtrack. This is you at your most real. And I think it'll be a good thing for all of us to get through this stage and go, well, I found a deep sense of vulnerability, but I did it as well as going is what I'm saying worth saying and my adding to the noise or am I saying something that's going to make a difference? Does that make sense?
Rob: Yeah, that makes sense. Do you think that's why formats like podcasting, where it's a little bit long form and you can't sort of hide behind the tricks so much, do you think that's why that's becoming so popular as it is? Because there's an authenticity component?
Erica: I do. I think the I think things are changing even in the last few years of working in TV. I've noticed a huge popularity, obviously, as we've all seen rise in things like reality shows and anything to do with just speaking things out. While I still desperately love travel shows like mine. I think that's still a place for those because we all need to dream. We all need to know that we can go and...
Rob: Especially when the borders open back up. Yeah.
Erica: I can't wait. I think that there has been a shift to it to hopefully real and authentic, which is why radio is so popular in Australia and does so...
Erica: So well. But I think the more we can have these real conversations and hopefully be led by people behind the microphones that have authenticity and great things to say, I think that's why so many people are launching podcasts because they want to hear conversations of other people and glean what they can from that. Do I agree with that? Why not? Where do I sit on that? I mean, listen to this and see what they say.
Rob: Yeah, I mean, I think you can you can digest something or you can be a listener to something for a short period of time. And, you know, you can be wowed by the cameras, you can be wowed by the sound effects and all that sort of thing. But podcasting in particular is something very unique where it is, you know, past that first minute or two. It's you know, you either like it or you don't. And there's no real trickery to change someone's opinion of that. Right. So we're coming up on time here. And but I've really, really enjoyed chatting to today. So what do you think is next for communication generation? Obviously, when Covid passes and a bit of normality returns, do you see a bit of a duality between the podcast and your in-person actions?
Erica: Yeah, I really have enjoyed the longer form. Obviously, when you're on radio, you have maybe three, three and a half minutes tops to do a segment between songs. So the idea of waymo having fun with you today, like just being able to explore some topics and ideas speaks to me. I definitely cannot wait to get back in front of kids. I cannot wait to be back in schools. I cannot wait to go further than I've been before. Like I said, I spoke of Macquarie Uni to a group of leaders and achievers with some of the same content that I can tell to you. Six kids, and they loved it because it's all building blocks on how to be stronger internally so that our communication and our relationships can be stronger and that our wellbeing is stronger. So how if I do that for you one with building blocks or if I do that for university students just with PowerPoints and my general happiness and energy, I can't wait I can't wait to start getting back in there and spreading it. And yeah, I definitely will continue podcasting. I will see where it goes from here and what the topics will be once Koven is finished. But I think communication is something if we don't hang on to and we don't invest into, especially in a digital world, we could lose it if we're not careful.
Rob: I think it's an interesting skill, and I think when we're younger, we think we'll be better at it when we're older. But really, nothing changes unless we work on it.
Erica: That's right, that's right. And who are we looking to to show us how to do it? I think there are some incredible communicators in the world, especially at the moment. But then there's some that they just speak and leave. No, no, it doesn't work that way. So, yeah, I think being able to take some building blocks and then leaving it with the schools or the teachers or the parents or the businesses continue on it. It's my joy. I just love it.
Rob: It's great. So for anyone looking to find you. Where do they find you online?
Erica: Yeah, absolutely. Ah so, communicationgeneration.com.au. There is also, well, ericadavis.com.au if you want to find me personally. And also there's communication generation on Instagram and Facebook and all the rest of them. So, yeah,
Erica: Send me a message and I'd love to catch up.
Rob: That sounds amazing. Well, Erica Davis from Communication Generation. It's been a fantastic chat. I've really appreciated your time and I hope to see you doing some brilliant things once we get past all this iso yeah, it. That was going to be a really bad joke and it actually just failed. But, you know.
Erica: Well, thank you for having me. Because it's been so great getting to talk about this, especially as the business has to pause at the moment. It's good to relive all my fun, exciting moments that I can't wait to get back to you. You've given me joy.
Rob: Amazing, I'm so glad. Alright, well, thank you very much. And I wish you best for the future.